|GOTCHA's Sixth Annual Youth Summit was a full-day affair from one o'clock in the afternoon until 11
o'clock at night, a combination of learning, talent show, keynote speaker, dinner and dance. Over
100 teens, 15-18 years old, and took part in the afternoon events and
more were expected for dinner and dance.
The purpose of the summit was "to bring youth together to address
issues that affect their lives, to seek solutions through consensus and
to bring teams together to talk about youth issues and promote positive
Five workshops starting at 1pm focused on issues concerning youth.
- Education: How Far Can You Go? Figure out what's made available to you through education
- Youth Jobs:
Gotta Job? Learn about youth jobs in MA, find out how the budget breaks
down, learn about the annual rally and find out what you can do to help
in this effort
- Youth Empowerment: Time to Improve - Evaluating our communities, self and actions
- School to Prison Pipeline: Are You Safe from Society? Evaluating our judicial/prison systems as it relates you
- Health: Keep up with Your Body - Hear about all the different things that affect your health
Radio personality Young Quis of Hot 97.5 hosted the talent show which began with the keynote speaker, Darrin Howell.
| A 29-year old community activist, Darrin Howell
climbed his ropes the hard way. He's gotten his life together and
serves as an inspiration to all youth.
"You can succeed. You just have to want to badly enough."
Excerpts from Keynote Speech
The word that best sums up the purpose of today is motivation - to
increase the strength of individuals and communities, socially,
politically, spiritually and economically. The focus of my words today
is to create a picture of hope.
The judges explained to me when I was
released. "You can hold a 9-to-5 or the next time you're in a
courtroom, you'll be looking at a 5-to-9."
Understand that society is stacked against you and the situation is
only getting worse. We live in a society with a double standard.
Things are being said and other things are being practiced.
Politicians use the term "no child left behind" when talking about
education but in the same breath they say that one in three black men
will experience imprisonment. It costs about $50,000 per year per
inmate. Does this make any sense? What if you, the youth, could
physically exercise your right to vote? Those services that focus on
your personal and professional development would not be consistently
threatened or cut.
Today is different. You can achieve by believing in yourself. I
wouldn't be speaking to you here today if I didn't believe in myself.
If you get anything from me today, understand that we cannot control
the situation and the environment that we are born into. Instead,
focus on success. As Eric Thomas said, "You have to want success as
bad as you want to breathe." [Note: Eric Thomas is the hip-hop preacher.]
Each day we are given the same playing field - 1440 minutes per day,
168 hours per week and 365 days a year. I get no more and you get no
less. What choices are being made to change dreams into reality? You
cannot dwell on the past because it does not include your future. It
doesn't matter at all. All that matters is what you are going to do
now. Do you want to be a leader, someone who guides people in to a
particular direction? Then put in the work and hope one day to become
From the very moment we open our eyes, we start our day off with a
choice. It is all a matter of making choices. Do you want success as
bad is you want to be cool, as bad as you want to party, or as bad as
you want to sleep or eat? Success comes with sacrifice and that is a
You have to be willing to shed away the thinking that you are alone in
this world and that no one understands you. Gravitate to those that
have a genuine interest in seeing you succeed. You have to be quick
enough to pick up on the information about life as it comes along
because there is no course you can enroll in called Living 101. There
has to be something inside of you telling you there is light at the end
of the road. No matter how many people want to help you, it doesn't
help if you are not sharing that reality yourself.
These are the words that came to mind with the term: "Believe to
Achieve." There are a lot of things that have to be done if you want
to be successful but ultimately the root of success lies within you and
is based on how bad you want it.
Greeters at the Front Door
Education Workshop - What education makes available to you.
In the theatre getting ready for the talent show
Announcing keynote speaker
Keynote speaker, Darrin Howell
Shamekia Franklin, organizer from Bird Street
Councilor Yancey in attendance