The Merced County Office of Education, with the help of other community sponsors, will host Merced’s second Parent Institute on Saturday.
The event, designed to equip parents and caregivers with tools to better assist their children, will take place from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m at Golden Valley High School, 2121 East Childs Ave.
According to organizers, the conference is meant to show parents, grandparents and guardians the importance of role models in a child’s life.
Forty-plus workshops will be offered in English, Spanish and Hmong, and will cover a range of topics including: managing daily stress, Internet safety, mental health, teen development and the pathway to college, among others.
Exhibitors also will be available at the school’s gymnasium to provide information on community resources.
According to Rosa Barragan, the event committee co-chairwoman, the idea of bringing a conference such as the Parent Institute to Merced was born a few years ago, when parents traveled to a similar conference in Los Angeles. After hearing positive feedback from those parents, Barragan and fellow co-chairwoman Sol Rivas thought that having Merced’s own Parent Institute could benefit many local families.
“There’s a high poverty level and a lot of violence in Merced County; we see a need and (this conference) can be really useful for parents here,” Barragan said.
“We want parents to really understand the impact they can have on their children and to encourage their children to stay away from negative influences and dream big,” she continued.
The first Parent Institute in Merced County took place last year, attracting about 400 parents and guardians. More than 300 people have registered for Saturday’s event. People can still register online at www.mercedparentinstitute.weebly.com.
Rivas explained that the guest speakers were sought because of their personal, inspiring stories that organizers believe could resonate with the Merced community.
Sanchez Fuentes was raised in the Valley and has a background in migrant and early education. Louise has experience with at-risk youths, and shares her story of having lived through a multitude of group homes and psychiatric facilities by the time she was 16.
Rivas added that the conference also serves as a venue for parents to make connections as well as express their thoughts and concerns.
“This is not us telling people they need to be better parents,” Rivas explained. “It’s just a way to show parents how they can become advocates for all children in the community.”
The Parent Institute is free. It includes lunch and entertainment.
Sun-Star staff writer Ana B. Ibarra can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.