Earlimart will host its first Step Up anti-gang summit in February.

The Step Up Earlimart Gang Awareness Event will be held from 4:40 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. on Thursday, February 2 at Earlimart Middle School, 785 E. Center Ave. in Earlimart.

Supervisor Pete Vander Poel, who represents Earlimart and southwest Tulare County, said the free event is designed for community members who are concerned about gang violence, drug activity, and keeping youth involved in positive activities.

“Our hope is that by encouraging a sense of community and by providing families with information on available resources, Earlimart will be empowered to address problems including gangs and graffiti,” Supervisor Vander Poel said.

Earlimart School District Superintendent Sandra Rivera said it’s crucial that the community be educated about the detrimental impact of gangs on schools.

“The reality is that gang activity within the community can easily spill into the classroom, creating an environment of fear and intimidation,” Rivera said. “As a community, we must get involved and take a proactive approach to preventing gang activity.”

Organizers have arranged for a resource fair staffed by more than 15 community-based organizations, local government agencies and faith-based groups who will provide information to parents and youth. Participants will have opportunities to sign up and volunteer with various organizations in their community. Food will also be provided.

The event will also include a forum where a panel comprised of law enforcement, education, business, and faith-based officials will offer insight and solutions to community issues and answer questions from attendees. Translation will be available during the presentation.

The following organizations have helped plan and organize the Step Up Earlimart Gang Awareness Event: Earlimart School District, Earlimart Town Council, Earlimart Rotary, Earlimart Swap Meet, California Highway Patrol, Community Services Employment & Training (CSET), Tulare County Board of Supervisors, Tulare County District Attorney’s Office, Tulare County Fire Department, Tulare County Sheriff’s Department, and the Tulare County Probation Department.

For more information please contact Board of Supervisors representative Allison Pierce at 559/636-5000 or by email at agpierce@co.tulare.ca.us.