Photo by Kyle Norby

Be Awesome Youth Coalition’s inaugural Maricopa Teen Hall, presented by InMaricopa, drew teenagers and the parents for discussions about life choices and life skills.

The Saturday event at Maricopa City Hall had question-and-answer sessions with panels comprised of business owners and vocation leaders, law enforcement and health providers. Teens practiced interviewing for jobs, learned about conflict resolution and shot some hoops.

One of those helping the session on the job-interview process was Alexander Salgado, the vice president of finance for the Maricopa High School DECA Club.

“I was able to get a job just from DECA alone and learning from skills, and I want to help out other people by showing them the right way to interview and the steps to take to improve yourself,” he said.

Panelists included Sheriff Mark Lamb, Police Chief Steve Stahl, County Attorney Kent Volkmer, psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Kelsey Brisbin, La Frontera substance abuse therapist Alyssa Tonking, Ray Nieves of 911 Air, Terry Leamon and Toma Fitzgerald of My Maricopa Plumber, Chamerie O’Donnell of Test Track Builders of America, culinary teacher Hannah Norby of Maricopa High School and Jamie Brisbin of State Farm Insurance.

Teens and their parents asked pointed questions about serious concerns they face every day.

“I would say the major issues would be a lot of them don’t have the support that they need to get to where they want to go in life,” said Lisbeth Eriksen, an MHS student in the DECA program. “Like financial issues in order to get into college, and things like being surrounded by negative influences and negative energies that are just going to bring them down in life.”

Deputy Randall Snyder spoke about Internet safety, Linette Caroselli spoke about human trafficking, Julie Mack spoke about suicide prevention, Mary Witkofski spoke about the difference between consent and coercion and DECA advisor Julian Rodriguez spoke about becoming indispensable in your new job.

“I felt it went really well,” said Be Awesome coordinator Priscilla Behnke. “I am overwhelmed with the amount of support we saw from our partners, community leaders, and then the parents and teens who turned out that day. I really hope that people who attended had a meaningful experience and took with them information that will help them in their daily lives. It was really meaningful to see parents and teens talking with presenters and exhibitors.”

“I find these kinds of things interesting, so I decided to come out and volunteer,” Eriksen said.

The event was a partnership of InMaricopa, Councilmember Nancy Smith and Be Awesome.

Sponsors were Fitzgibbons Law Offices, Pinal County Supervisor Anthony Smith, McDonald’s, Pinal 40, Walmart, Vice Mayor Henry Wade, Councilmember Vincent Manfredi, SAMHSA, Water and Ice, Duncan Family Farms, Chris Cahall American Family Insurance, Great Western Bank and Mayor Christian Price.

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