Wake-up call for teens

Published 10:58 pm Thursday, August 22, 2013

Most parents have had the experience of realizing there’s not much they can tell their teenage children about the world. Clearly there’s a wealth of experience teenagers could draw from in their parents, but most teens go through a period during which they figure they’ve already got all the answers they need.

For many, the cold reality of life only reveals itself once they’ve made mistakes that can take years — or even a lifetime — to overcome.

That’s the situation organizers of this weekend’s Teen Summit hope to address, as experts lead sessions on a variety of topics tailored to the ages of the 11- to 17-year-old participants. Youth can join sessions about gang violence and prevention, drugs and alcohol, sexually transmitted diseases, healthy relationships and a variety of other topics.

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This will be the second year the Suffolk Department of Parks and Recreation has held the summit, and city officials hope it will continue to gain traction among Suffolk’s youth, their parents and people who provide services to teens throughout the city.

Parents will have a chance to sit in with community leaders and ask questions during a panel discussion, and a block party on Friday — which will be open to the public and include free food, bounce houses, face painting and other activities — should help set a festive tone for the event, which continues on Saturday with the panels and presentations.

One thing that will make the Saturday sessions unique is the opportunity youth will have to hear important information from some of their peers. A college panel with current and recently graduated college students will be held to answer questions about the realities of college life. College representatives also will be available.

It’s far easier than they realize for teens to find their hopes and dreams derailed as they grow toward adulthood. Suffolk’s Teen Summit could be just the wake-up call many of the city’s youth so desperately need.

The summit will be held Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 100 E. Constance Road. The block party will take place Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Constant’s Wharf Park, behind the hotel. Registration for Saturday’s event will be open during the block party. For more information, call 514-7250.