*As seen in the Argus Observer, By Jessica Else
ONTARIO—Youth motivational speaker and comedian David Edward Garcia entertained nearly 200 high school and college students at the second annual Treasure Valley Emerging Leaders Summit, held at the Treasure Valley Community College gymnasium Wednesday night.
The Emerging Leaders Summit was a celebration of the student leaders who are contributing to their communities. The event aims to validate area youths and give them confidence to become community leaders.
“We want to get all the participants, the young leaders in our community, and show them how much we value them,” said Matt Sorensen, executive director of Boys and Girls Club of the Western Treasure Valley. “They’re an integral part of its success down the road.”
Treasure Valley Community College also gave out two $500 scholarships through a drawing that took place before the show.
Garcia’s comedy presentations are based in family-friendly comedy and focus on topics such as diversity, leadership, anti-bullying and success. He also touches on how to be free from negative influences, avoiding destructive behaviors and how to stay motivated for life.
“If you want to do great things, you have to find your motivation,” Garcia told the crowd Wednesday night. “You have the option of believing in your own insecurities and you have the option of believing in great things.”
Garcia also offered encouragement for tough times.
“All of us in life will go through disappointment,” Garcia said. “When you’re disappointed, you have two options. Number one, you can quit, or number two, you can keep on going.”
Sorensen said the goal of the Emerging Leaders Summit is to bring in speakers who will support young adults in their efforts to reach their full potential.
“We bring in motivational speakers to awaken that part [of young adults],” Sorensen said.
Last year, for the first event, St. Louis native and volunteering advocate Simone Bernstein was the speaker. She educated the audience on the importance of youth volunteering. At age 12, Bernstein created a website that allowed young adults to find volunteer projects in one centralized location, making resources readily available for those with a passion for volunteering.
Tammy Vogt, director of the Treasure Valley Emerging Leaders Summit, said though last year was a success, the number of attendees Wednesday was more than double from 2013.
“There’s a lot of negative messages out there,” Vogt said. “We’re putting out a positive, supportive message.”