April 1, 2011
  • 4/1/2011--Conference in San Mateo explores youth issues 

    By Elizabeth Pfeffer 

    San Mateo County Times 


    Today's kindergartners will be out of high school in 15 years, and it's anyone's guess what 

    they will become. But whether they're healthy, happy and educated shouldn't be a 



    That's the idea behind "Destination 2025: Mapping the Course of our Kids," the inaugural 

    San Mateo County Children and Youth Summit at the county Event Center on Saturday. 


    Just over half of the county's third-graders are proficient readers, nearly a third of 

    seventh-graders have an unhealthy weight, and more than three in 10 high school juniors 

    have felt sad and hopeless. 


    Hundreds of people are expected to join in a dialogue about these three local benchmarks 

    from www.kidsdata.org, a program of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's 



    Keynote speaker Angela Glover Blackwell, founder of PolicyLink, and a panel of 

    community leaders will talk about those issues and how to close the gaps in opportunities 

    and education among Peninsula youth. 


    In Hillsborough, for example, nearly all third-graders are proficient readers, but the 

    numbers fall below 30 percent in the county's poorer districts, according to foundation 



    "Hopefully, this will be a call to action," said San Mateo County Board of Supervisors 

    President Carole Groom. 


    The board and the Peninsula Partnership Leadership Council are joint hosts of this first 

    children and youth summit, which will be followed by the first San Mateo County Youth 

    Conference, an event organized by and created for young people. 


    In 2008, the council developed a "Bill of Rights" for the children and youth of San Mateo 

    County that has been widely adopted throughout the county. 


    "This is an opportunity to come together with like-minded people to come up with 

    solutions at a community level and hear some great concrete nuggets of possibilities," 

    said Larry Best, executive director of the Peninsula Partnership Leadership Council. 


    Adults and children are welcome to attend both events. The afternoon events will be 

    about peer education, with mostly teen presenters.  

    "I think anybody could find something for them that's interesting," said Mia Semelman, a 

    15-year-old sophomore from Burlingame High School and one of the main organizers. 


    The conference is the first of its kind to incorporate all the region's youth organizations 

    and get them under one roof, according to San Mateo County Youth Commission 

    Program Coordinator Seren Pendleton-Knoll. 


    It will feature 17 different presentations by youths from all over the county and Bay Area, 

    all under 25, ranging in topic from raising awareness about undocumented students in 

    schools to words kids use against women. 


    The San Mateo County Children and Youth Summit begins at 9 a.m., and the San Mateo 

    County Youth Conference starts at noon, with free lunch. Both have free admission and 

    will take place at the San Mateo County Event Center, located at the intersection of 

    Saratoga Drive and Delaware Street in San Mateo.