Leaders in Life
Middle and high school students pack Bakersfield Convention Center for a day of networking, learning and motivation
When he was 16-years-old, local Bakersfield businessman Morgan Clayton’s life was very dark. He was poor. He lived alone and had zero confidence or plan for his future.
“I was so withdrawn about my life that I slept with a flashlight,” he told 2,000 middle and high school students during the annual Leaders in Life Youth Conference, an event Clayton helped create more than 16 years ago.
He went on to explain that it was this little light that helped him find his confidence. That confidence created a spark, which ignited into a flame over time.
“That flame connected me to the right people,” he said. “It gave me happiness. It gave me success and gave it me blue skies.”
Like Clayton’s own life story, the Leaders in Life Youth Conference was built from humble beginnings. Today, the conference is the largest of its kind on the west coast, organized entirely for teens, by teens.
Nationally recognized motivational speaker Cedrick Crawford kicked the conference into high gear as he burst onto the stage at the Rabobank Theater with music blaring and energized the crowd with an impromptu dance party.
Then it was down to business.
Crawford encouraged attendees to get the most out of the breakout workshops that would consume much of the day by not just listing, but hearing.
“Attend with intent,” he repeatedly urged.
Teen organizers say the idea is to shine light on issues that are impacting their generation the most.
The day’s workshops consisted of 32 choices with topics ranging from ways to manage stress and overcoming life’s hurdles to presentations about alcohol and tobacco use, planning your financial future, applying to college, bullying and everything in between.
For the third year, there was also a DUI court sentencing where students witnesses the real-life ramifications of drinking and driving.
Coach Jim White and brothers Danny and David Diaz from the 1987 McFarland Cross Country team were also in attendance to talk to the crowd about overcoming obstacles to achieve success.
“It’s all in your attitude,” insisted Danny Diaz. “Your attitude will dictate whether you are triumphant or not.”
Doors will not open up for you automatically; you have to work for it, he said.