Teen summit this weekend

Published 9:51 pm Wednesday, August 20, 2014

By Henry Luzzatto


“Good choices” and “teenagers” are not usually words associated with each other, and the Suffolk Department of Parks and Recreation hopes to change that.


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In order to promote healthy living and good choices among teens, the Suffolk Department of Parks and Recreation will host the 2014 Suffolk Teen Summit.

The Teen Summit is an extension of the Suffolk Initiative on Youth Crime Prevention Plan, a series of programs started in 2006 to fund job training, gang awareness and training in life skills for teenagers. This event was one of the ways the community decided to promote these ideas, according to Lakita Watson, director of Suffolk Parks and Recreation.

“The Suffolk Teen Summit’s goal is to prevent crime and to help better the state of life,” said Watson. The Teen Summit aims to do so through education on various topics that affect modern teenagers.

The Teen Summit will offer interactive sessions that cover important issues such as dating, healthy eating and living, bullying, and social media and music.

“We chose individuals who have experience in those topics and can relate them to the families,” Watson said.

The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney will also participate in the summit, offering two interactive sessions on the dangers of gangs.

The session’s opening speaker will be Ashley Smith, a traffic and news reporter for WVEC. As well as appearing on television daily, Smith is the minister of music at New Galilee Missionary Baptist Church in Chesapeake and former Miss United States.

Smith was chosen because “We wanted to choose someone who is committed to youth in the area,” Watson said. “It shows someone who has accomplished something and also given back.”

During the summit, a career and college fair will be held, during which information on how to apply for college and financial aid will be provided.

By informing teenagers and their families about crime prevention, the Suffolk Teen Summit hopes to “provide tools needed for happy and positive lives,” stated Watson.

The Teen Summit will be held at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, 110 W. Finney Ave. Event check-in begins at 8 a.m., and the activities and presentations start at 9 a.m. and last until 2 p.m. After the event is over, there will be an after-party at the East Suffolk Recreation Center, 138 S. Sixth St., from 1 to 3 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required. Registration can be completed at any Suffolk Parks and Recreation Joint Use Facility, the East Suffolk Recreation Center, or online at www.suffolkva.us/parks.

A Friday evening “block party” at Constant’s Wharf that was set to kick off the event has been canceled due to the threat of bad weather.