Summit offers reality check

Bernell Nez, 16, of Albuquerque, back left, and Garrett Mullins, 17, of Clovis, right, try on goggles that simulate being drunk as Lawrence Lopez, 13, of Clovis shoots a basketball. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Leslie Radford: CNJ staff writer

Some area students are spending spring break getting away from the stress of everyday life. Others are learning new ways to deal with it.

“I know what it’s like to be pregnant now,” joked Josh Nichols, a Clovis ninth-grader who spent time Thursday in a “simulation belly” designed to give students insight on maternity and the effects of participating in sexual activities. More than 100 students attended the third annual Spring Break Teen Health Summit at Marshall Junior High.

Nichols said he also learned about contracting sexually transmitted diseases and the dangers of driving while intoxicated.

On Tuesday, he said he went to the summit with a group from Clovis’ New Visions alternative school in a negative frame of mind. By the end of the three-day event, he said, “I actually learned something.”

Not all of the students were impressed.

“It was kind of hard to sit there and listen to some of the speakers,” said sophomore Chris Brunsen, who also came with the New Visons group. “… How can they sit there and tell us what it’s like if they don’t really know?”

Brunsen said he did not learn much more than what he already had learned from experience.

“I think the most influential part for me was talking about environmental issues,” said Brunsen who participated in picking up litter and taking pictures of things that contribute to the deterioration of the environment.

Terri Marney with the Wellness Council, along with Gayla Jaquess who represented the public health department, said the summit targeted problems that confront many Clovis teenagers.

“I can’t tell you how many teens have come to me with problems with anorexia,” Jaquess said. “We allow the students (at the summit) to ask any questions they feel they need to have answered in a positive environment.”

Jaquess and Marney said it is hard to tell sometimes if teenagers retain the information they are given, but “all we can do is plant that seed in their mind.”

“It’s spring break,” Marney said. “(Teenagers) don’t want to sit here and listen to someone lecture them — they go to school and get that. Here, they can actively participate in healthy and fun activities while in a learning environment.”

The Teen Health Summit is a voluntary program for teenagers in seventh- through 12th-grades.