Upham's Corner Online

Gotcha Youth Summit 2011

Posted: April 16, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

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.
Gotcha Youth Summit 2011
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 solutions."

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.  Gotcha Youth Summit 2011

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 a leader. 

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 given. 

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.
Gotcha Youth Summit 2011
Greeters at the Front Door

Gotcha Youth Summit 2011
Education Workshop - What education makes available to you.
Gotcha Youth Summit 2011
Information Tables
Gotcha Youth Summit 2011
In the theatre getting ready for the talent show
Gotcha Youth Summit 2011
Announcing keynote speaker
Gotcha Youth Summit 2011
Keynote speaker, Darrin Howell
Gotcha Youth Summit 2011
Shamekia Franklin, organizer from Bird Street
Gotcha Youth Summit 2011
Councilor Yancey in attendance

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