Hundreds attend teen summit

Published 9:25 pm Saturday, August 24, 2013

Matthew A. Ward/Suffolk News-Herald At Saturday’s Teen Summit, Bobbi Carroll, admissions counselor for Hampton University, tells Shay’la Sharpe, a King’s Fork High School rising junior, and Kasheana Owens, a rising senior at Lakeland High School, about various avenues of study. The second annual event, at the downtown Hilton Garden Inn, informed pre-teens, teens and their families about being successful.

Matthew A. Ward/Suffolk News-Herald
At Saturday’s Teen Summit, Bobbi Carroll, admissions counselor for Hampton University, tells Shay’la Sharpe, a King’s Fork High School rising junior, and Kasheana Owens, a rising senior at Lakeland High School, about various avenues of study. The second annual event, at the downtown Hilton Garden Inn, informed pre-teens, teens and their families about being successful.

Hundreds of Suffolk pre-teens, teens and their family members learned the secrets of success and staying on the right track during Saturday’s Teen Summit at the downtown Hilton Garden Inn.

In its second year, the event included information stands, lectures, and community panels, with events for 11 to 13-year-olds, 14 to 17-year-olds, and adults.

“Teen Summit is an interactive conference for pre-teens and teens, as well as for their parents and youth service providers,” said Lakita Watson, director of Suffolk’s Parks and Recreation, which put on the event with help from sponsors.

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Sponsors included Hometown Sports, LW’s Lawn Service, Gaines Bus Service, Suffolk Boosters Club and St. Paul Baptist Church.

“The purpose is to bring families and community together to empower them to make good choices and decisions,” Watson said.

Among speakers, Art Powell, a former gang member from Atlanta but now a bullying and gang prevention expert and life coach, spoke about his experiences and the programs he has developed to help teens.

Teen and relationships expert Alduan Tartt offered advice on teen dating, and the Suffolk Police Department’s Andre Weaver, resource office at Nansemond River High School, spoke about the importance of avoiding alcohol and drugs.

“We have brought in some award-winning and renowned speakers to provide them with the tools and resources necessary to build positive character — honesty, courage and integrity,” Watson said.

“If you are to be successful in life, you have to have good character.”

Priscilla McDowell, mother of 14-year-old Joshua McDowell, a rising King’s Fork High School ninth-grader, said she decided to return this year after enjoying 2012’s summit.

“I have no specific questions, I just want to make sure I have the knowledge to help him get a good education and stay in school,” McDowell said.

Kasheana Owens, a rising Lakeland High School senior, said it was her first time at the summit. “Somebody told me about it, so I just came,” she said.

Shay’la Sharpe also said it was her first time at the event. “I’m just looking at the colleges,” she said. “I know I want to major in business.”

Colleges, including Elizabeth City State University, Norfolk State University, Virginia State University and Paul D. Camp Community College, were this year brought on board for the first time, Watson said.