INDIO, Calif. - In its simplest form, a yo-yo consists of an axle, two disks, and some twine to tie it all together. To Diego Zamora, an 11th-grader at Coachella Valley High School, it's a lifestyle.
"Yo-yo is a great way to relieve stress for me. It gets me away from my place of mind," he said.
It's Diego's escape from harassment, gangs, abuse, and gossip.
"There are usually lots of drugs people try to make you do," said Arissa Avila, a sixth-grader at Indio Middle School.
These words are the real-life struggles kids and teens face daily and they're not alone.
Nearly 150 kids, ranging from 4-year-olds to 18, turned out to the Angel Light Academy's two-day Youth Leadership Conference at Van Buren Elementary to learn what it takes to be an "Angel on Earth."
They focused on their strengths to help overcome their weaknesses.
"We want to fill that gap and give them hope there's a chance for them to do something with their lives," said Erika Bailey, the vice president of ALA.
The goal is that if the kids ever feel like their lives are spinning out of control, they can pick themselves back up with a few leadership skills.
"They are already leaders inside. It's about learning leadership skills to solve problems and reach out to others in need," said Bailey.
The angels were challenged with skits, games and student films to practice team building, patience, and honesty.
"I was going through some problems at school, and it really helps a lot with all of that," said Jade Jordan, a sixth-grader.
Jake Bailey says, "It's really fun. I get to learn how to become a better person and more successful in life."
Diego says all it takes is practice.
"Practice always makes perfect," he said.