The Bakersfield Chapter of the Links Incorporated Host Community Awareness Day at Emerson Jr. High

By Darlene L. Williams and Austyn J. Williams, Contributing Writers

BAKERSFIELD, Calif.— Bakersfield Chapter of the Links Incorporated, Links’ Leadership STEAM(Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) Academy hosted its 4th Annual Community Awareness Day Saturday, December 14, 2019 at Emerson Middle School.

About 80 middle and high school (STEAM) students, parents, and others met at the school for the 5-hour event.

Workshops were available to both parents and students to inform, educate, and raise awareness about the dangers of Human Trafficking, facilitated by Dr. Stephany Powell; Vaping, by Mr. Fitzgerald Graves; and Cyber Safety, by Bakersfield Police Chief, Lyle Martin. Also, EMS Educational Psychologist; Gina Gordon-Lopez, presented a break-out session for parents; Helping Our Children Be Successful In School (Tools for Student Success).

The Links, Bakersfield Chapter has over 10-years of pro-active community service and raising awareness on societal issues.

“My passion is to reach out to the community and to help the underrepresented groups of people who don’t get these services, Links President, Olivia Washington said. “We introduced arts into S.T.E.M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) and with the arts they (the students) can design for cars, and robotics.”

Students were encouraged to stop by the exhibit faire which included the Bakersfield Police Department, SWAT and Bomb unit, Bakersfield Fire Department, California State University Bakersfield, and Bakersfield College.

“It’s so important to let the community know what we’re actually doing; we’re not just a mouth piece” Links Bakersfield Chapter Member; Allison Perkins, said.

The Bakersfield News Observer (BNO) spoke with several STEAM students, and parents for Q and A.

Q: What does the STEAM Academy mean to you?

A: (Jehvah Crompton, 13; Actis Jr. High) STEAM has given me a deeper understanding about the world around me. We help the homeless with food; so far that’s what we’ve done. As for the science part of STEAM, building pressure with matter and now focusing on rockets has inspired me to be a scientist.

A: (Khori Crompton, 11; Castle Elementary) STEAM helped me learn more about science experiments. I want to be a doctor. It looks good to help people. This program helps me build on it.

A: (Rhea McCoy, 11; McKinley Elementary) It (STEAM) has taught me things about water and air.

A: (Aniya Reynolds, 13; Washington Middle School) STEAM has helped me with my science and math.

A: (Fatimah Ahmed, 16; Bakersfield High School) I have been in STEAM since I was 7 years-old. It has made me more aware of the community. It makes students more aware of math, new programs and new perspectives.

A: (Kimberly Crompton, Parent) I like STEAM because it gives children the ability to work outside of school. It emphasizes things from an African American perspective. The Links organization has brought many executives to these events, which give the children opportunities to see people who look like us.

Dr. Stephany Powell; 30-year LAPD veteran, and expert on human trafficking held “no punches” as she spoke to the group of high school students about the shrewd reality of human trafficking.

“It’s happening right here in Bakersfield, pimp driven prostitution, Powell said. “Girls as young as 12 to 14 years- of- age are being trafficked, and as young as age 11 for African American girls.”

“It’s important for me that I don’t see people get caught up in the game, she said.”

Powell engaged the students with activities geared at showing them just how easy it is to become a victim of sex-trafficking and the steps that can be taken to ensure ones safety. She asked the students a series of questions:

· Have you ever gone to the mall alone or with a group of friends?

· Have you ever started an online relationship with someone you’ve never met?

· Have you ever attended a party at a friend’s house with no adult supervision?

· Have you ever posted your whereabouts or plans on social media?

· Have you ever accepted a ride from someone you didn’t know, including Lyft or Uber?

· Have you ever been approached on social media to “hook up”, or share photos?

· Have you ever responded to or met with someone regarding online advertisements or purchased items online?

· Have you ever hung out with older friends that your guardians have never met?

90% of the students admitted to at least one or all of the questions that Dr. Powell asked.

“If you stood for any of these actions, she said. Chances are you could be trafficked.”

On the other hand, vaping is another area of concern and has been blamed for several deaths in Kern County, according to recent news articles.

Fitzgerald Graves, Chair for Tobacco-Free Kern; said, “Vaping is a real epidemic. I want to give parents and students tobacco prevention tool-kits today with steps to prevent the use of E-cigarettes and Vape Pens.”

The next Links STEAM Academy events will be held Jan 11 and Jan 25, 2020 at Emerson Middle School Cafeteria; 801 Fourth Street, Bakersfield, Ca. 93304.

Images:

The Bakersfield Chapter of the Links Incorporated Community Awareness Day 2019 (Courtesy Photo)

Dr. Stephany Powell, Human Trafficking Presenter (L), Olivia Perkins Washington, Bakersfield Links Incorporated (Center), and Chief Lyle Martin, Bakersfield Police Department (R). (Courtesy Photo)