From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. tomorrow, the Be Awesome Youth Coalition and the Maricopa Youth Council are hosting a free, one-day conference at Copper Sky for parents and teenagers.  

The event – featuring breakout sessions, resources, and notable speakers – aims to shed light on relevant topics such as internet safety, overcoming adversity, drug and alcohol prevention and healthy communication.  

Attendees who register for the event will receive a complimentary lunch and t-shirt.  

Priscilla Behnke, founder and executive director of Be Awesome, emphasizes the importance of internet safety in today’s online world. 

A lot of times, parents want their kids to have cell phones for easy communication, Behnke said. But they need to understand the dangers as well.  

Pinal County Detective Randall Snyder will present facts and statistics from an ongoing study in which he assumes the identity of a 14-year-old girl entering online chatrooms, revealing the true threats that children may encounter online.  

Snyder has been investigating crimes against children for years and said every social media app or video game serves as a hunting ground for cyber predators.  

“We want to tell parents what to look out for,” Behnke said. “It’s really eye opening.”  

Participants can also complete a Clifton Strength assessment, in which parents and teens can work with a coach to improve their communication and hone their behavioral skills.   

And in addition to the informative sessions, the event will offer entertainment in the gymnasium including painting, video games, esports and basketball.  

Behnke hopes to create a safe space for families and provide the necessary guidance. 

“If only we could get parents to hear this information,” she said. “I would love for parents to take the lead, so their children feel safe and receive proper guidance.”