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Empowerment summit aims to help youth

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FORREST CITY (Times-Herald) - Many of the problems facing Delta youth are not new: self-esteem, teen suicide and drug abuse. The 2013 Youth, Teen and Young Adult Empowerment Summit is an event that organizers hope will help young people and their parents overcome these obstacles for and lead more successful and productive lives.

The theme of the summit is Perfecting My Imperfections, and it will be held Saturday, April 6, at the Forrest City Civic Center with doors opening at 8:15 a.m. The welcome session is at 9 a.m., with age-appropriate financial and anger management sessions at 10 a.m.  and break-out sessions from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Melrita Garrett, Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) and a 1995 Forrest City High School graduate, spoke about how the program came about and what the summit's goals are.

"When I was growing up, many of the same problems were there," said Garrett. "I had a child when I was a teenager. I was a little defiant. I see what is going on now with our children and I see many of the same things. I wanted to help these kids. I called some of my friends to see if they would be willing to come here and help with this. Since then we've had several organizations sign up to help."

The groups partnering for the event include the Forrest City Police Department, FC Fire Department, the St. Francis County Hometown Health Coalition, the FC School District Parental Involvement Program, the FC Divine 9, Cedric Williams State Farm and the Xi Sigma Zeta Chapter of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.

The event's website, www.fcasummit.com, has a complete rundown of the sessions that will be offered. At 10 a.m., Money Matters will be presented by Regions Bank for people 14 and older. 

At the same time, I'm Mad, How do I Deal With It?, an anger management session, will be presented by Rhonda Bohannon, LMSW.

The other break-out sessions that will be offered between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. include:

• "Who are Your Bullies... or Are You the Bully?," presented by Temika Rogers, LMSW.

• "I'm Going to Have to Teach You How to Love Me: Dealing with Relationships," presented by ministers Kisten Haynes and Ercenia Strickland-Lewis for females and to males by Dresidan Gatlin and Andre Jones, LMSW.

• "Who am I? Developing and Maximizing my Self-esteem, Image and Potential," presented by LaBrenda McClinton, LMSW.

• "Man Up: Becoming a Man in Today's Society," presentation for males by Minister Brian Harris.

• "I've Got All the Power, Now What Am I Going to Do with It?: Empowerment," presented by Benetra Johnson, LMSW.

• "All these Pills: Medication Management," presented by Dr. Nicholas Tinsley, Pharmacist.

• "What if there are no visible signs: Exposing the World of Teen Suicide and Cutting," presented by Laura Huff, LMSW.

• "A Healthier Me! Eating Healthier: Mind, Body and Spirit," presented by Latasha Patillo-Jones, Nurse Practitioner.

• "Grief: Understanding All Types of Grief and How to Move Forward," presented by Felecia Fields, LMSW.

Garrett stated that there is a $5 fee for people 18 and over, which will go towards the cost of the event and help fund future events.

"This is our first event, but we are working towards forming a group home and holding other events for our youth," said Garrett. "Those who are 17 and younger can still help our community by bringing  at least three canned goods as admission. The canned goods will be donated to the St. Francis County Food Pantry.

"There will be on-site concessions, vendors and college booths. We will have sessions for parents because even if the child is willing to change, their environment has to change too. They have to have good examples at home," continued Garrett.

Garrett also noted that there will be a fun, surprise activity from 4 to 6 p.m. and that continuing education units are available for foster parents are available through the event.

"With the negative publicity that we receive, we want to bring something positive to Forrest City," added Garrett. "Our goal is to get these children on the right path. We want to help them deal with their problems in the best ways possible to that they can overcome them as they transition from youth to productive citizens in society."

For more information or to pre-register for the summit, contact Garrett at 945-5400 or e-mail FCAYouthSummit@yahoo.com.

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