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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 23, 2012 

OC Human Relations’ BRIDGES Day Camp Develops Young Leaders and Safer Schools

(Santa Ana)—Recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) demonstrate how widespread bullying has become in our nation’s schools. Nationwide more than one in five high school students reported being bullied at school and more than 16 percent reported that they had been bullied electronically.

With bullying and student harassment at an all-time high in our middle and high schools, student leaders from Orange County schools are preparing to learn how to take a more significant leadership role in creating safer, more inclusive and respectful learning environments where all students feel welcome and can succeed.

From August 6-10, student leaders from approximately 16 local high schools will attend Orange County Human Relations’ BRIDGES Youth Organizing Camp, a week-long program which brings together youth from diverse economic, social, ethnic and cultural backgrounds to dialogue about human relations and social justice issues. Students will represent schools in Corona del Mar, Irvine, Garden Grove, Newport Beach, Anaheim, Westminster, Cypress, Huntington Beach, and Orange.

“The curriculum that will be shared at the BRIDGES Day Camp is based on Martin Luther King, Jr., Center’s Six Steps of Nonviolent Social Change,” said Eric Lam, Bridges Staff member. “We will have guest speakers who best model how the steps are implemented at their campuses. Students will go back to their schools ready to create campus-specific campaigns that address the needs of their particular school communities to benefit all students. Participants will be challenged to think about ways to reduce intergroup tensions and foster mutual understanding in order to make Orange County a better place for all people to live, work and do business.”

Students will learn how to organize their peers to take a stand against hate and violence and to combat prejudice while participating in fun hands-on activities, multi-media presentations, role playing , skill-building and outdoor activities.

When: Monday, August 6 to Friday, August, 10, 2012, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Where: Rancho Santiago Community College District, 2323 N. Broadway, Room 107, Santa Ana (Get Directions)

Editor’s Note: Tuesday, August 7, will be a particularly visual day at the camp as students will walk to nearby Santiago Park where team-building activities along with outdoor workshops will take place. Please notify OC Human Relations if you plan on attending the camp for additional details.

About OC Human Relations

OC Human Relations Council provides programs to foster mutual understanding among residents and eliminate prejudice, intolerance and discrimination in order to make Orange County a better place for ALL people to live, work and do business. Council initiatives include proactive leadership development and inter-ethnic relations programs in schools all over Orange County.

About BRIDGES

BRIDGES, an OC Human Relations program, is a multi-year program that improves inter-group relations by partnering with schools and communities to create, advocate for and sustain safe, inclusive and equitable campus climates that respect diversity. BRIDGES empowers members of the campus community to identify, investigate and address the human relations needs specific to their campus.

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Contacts: Maricela Jauregui, 714-567-7557, Maricela@ochumanrelations.org and Eric Lam, 714-567-7402, eric@ochumanrelations.org

July 23, 2012

 BACKGROUNDERS: OC Human Relations’ BRIDGES Day Camp Voices

Kathy Tran

A Santa resident, Tran is 17-years-old and an incoming senior Los Amigos High School, Fountain Valley. She attended the BRIDGES camp in August 2010 and will be serving as a BRIDGES Camp facilitator at this year’s camp. Tran has been involved in the BRIDGES program since 2007 when she was in seventh grade.

What role will you play at the camp this year?

I will be a BRIDGES Camp Facilitator. As a facilitator, I will work alongside BRIDGES staff to help prepare the summer camp learning material. I will also be facilitating activities for the students and provide my knowledge and experience to help them become youth organizers in their communities. I believe it’s important that students like me are given the opportunity to help prepare and facilitate for other students by serving as role models. It’s important that BRIDGES camp is organized with students, to empower other students.

When you attended the camp, how did it make a difference in your life?

When I attended the camp, I gained the skills needed to make a difference not only in my life, but also in my school and community. I was more aware of different injustices around the world and I was inspired to tackle them one by one. I also gained lifelong friends at camp and it gave me a network of other youth organizers in my community.

How were the skills you learned at camp important on your school campus?

I learned necessary skills needed to create a campaign and create sustainable change. By learning the six steps for social change, I was on my way to helping create a safe, inclusive and equitable school campus. I also learned how to do one-on-one conversations with school allies to empower others to get involved.

What obstacles have you had to overcome that may have do with your perceived differences in relationship to your peers?
Going to a primarily Latino and Vietnamese school, I have seen many stereotypes and differences between both student bodies. I noticed that our clubs and events on campus were always divided between different ethnicities and cultures. As I joined BRIDGES, it was my goal to unite the student body and overcome these differences. By promoting awareness of unity through Cesar Chavez Day, I was able to teach students that both the Asian and Latino cultures have similar struggles and successes. Through Cesar Chavez Day, many students can be empowered that they have similar opportunities to succeed.

How did the camp improve your self-esteem or your perception of others?

Camp has improved my self-esteem because it has given me the confidence to empower other young students. Through my increased involvement in the BRIDGES Program, our club has gained a new sense of respect for uniting the school campus.

Why do you believe the BRIDGES program is so very important at your school and in Orange County in general?

I believe that the BRIDGES Program is vital in fostering new youth leaders to make a difference in their school and community. Without the BRIDGES Program, many students would not be aware of some of the injustices they face in their lives. The BRIDGES program not only develops awareness for such issues, but it also gives students the tools to be the change. The presence of the bridges program has united administrators, teachers, students, and staff at my school to provide a valuable educational experience.

Ana Coria

A Fullerton resident, Coria is 20-years-old, and a graduate of Fullerton Union High School. She attended the BRIDGES camp in August 2009 and will be serving as a BRIDGES summer intern.

When you attended the camp, how did it make a difference in your life?

BRIDGES Camp made a positive difference in my life. Thanks to the BRIDGES Camp, I gained the skills and confidence to organize around important social issues in high school and after graduation.

How were the skills you learned at camp important on your school campus?

In my high school campus, the skills I and my peers learned helped us create a more inclusive and safe environment for all students. With our skills from camp, we were able to hold workshops and events against bullying.

What obstacles have you had to overcome that may have do with your perceived differences in relationship to your peers?

Coming from a family that lacked the same educational opportunities as some of my peer’s family appeared as an obstacle; however, BRIDGES Camp gave me the confidence to pursue high educational goals for myself.

How did the camp improve your self-esteem or your perception of others?

Thanks to BRIDGES my self-esteem as a leader and individual improved. Through the summer camp not only did I gain important skills as an organizer, but it also taught me the importance and value of one’s culture and endeavors.

Why do you believe the BRIDGES program is so very important at your school and in Orange County in general?

The BRIDGES Program plays an important role in creating a strong community and stronger leaders in the OC.

Editor’s Note: For Interviews with these student leaders and others, please contact Eric Lam at 714-567-7402.

About OC Human Relations

OC Human Relations Council provides programs to foster mutual understanding among residents and eliminate prejudice, intolerance and discrimination in order to make Orange County a better place for ALL people to live, work and do business. Council initiatives include proactive leadership development and inter-ethnic relations programs in schools all over Orange County.

About BRIDGES

BRIDGES, an OC Human Relations program, is a multi-year program that improves inter-group relations by partnering with schools and communities to create, advocate for and sustain safe, inclusive and equitable campus climates that respect diversity. BRIDGES empowers members of the campus community to identify, investigate and address the human relations needs specific to their campus.

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By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

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