10/08/06 — Local youths get opportunity to learn, share ideas at summmit

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Local youths get opportunity to learn, share ideas at summmit

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 8, 2006 2:02 AM

Kwain Bryant said he never set out to be a motivational speaker, but his heart for young people brought about requests that turned his passion into a life mission.

For the last six years, he has operated "Empowerment Exchange" of Charlotte, traveling the state leading seminars for youths as well as adults. His team was in Goldsboro on Saturday for the second annual teen summit, sponsored by Wayne Action Teams for Community Health.

Bryant had a background as a health educator. At 37, he said associating with young people keeps him feeling like he's one of them.

"I tend to learn just as much from the young people as I share," he said.

The youth empowerment summit was a chance to impart information about health issues and in turn, Bryant said his efforts are geared to empower teens to make healthy decisions in their lives and influence others.

"My primary goal is to edu-tain -- educate and entertain," he told the students gathered at Dillard Alumni Center. "Your education is the bridge between where you are and where you want to go in life.

"In your life, we want you to think big, act bigger and live better."

Three sessions were offered for the more than 100 students, who represented all six public high schools in the county. Topics included relationships, the truth about marijuana, and college and career planning.

Kisha Floyd, WATCH health educator at Goldsboro High School, was one of the event's organizers. She said it expanded from its first outing last year. Word of mouth helped, as did a grant from the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Coaliation of North Carolina.

"There's a lot of things for younger kids in Wayne County, but there's nothing really that's geared toward the teenagers in grades 9-12," she said. "What we're trying to do is bring something for that population that is positive and gives them something positive to do. ... We want them to live their best life."

Rene Coleman, a senior at Goldsboro High, attended last year's seminar and returned for the second event.

"It was actually fun," she said. "Usually it's boring with people up there talking about things. We had great speakers, down-to-earth, and they knew what they were talking about."

Her experience prompted her to encourage friends to come out for this year's summit, she said.

"I told them they might actually learn something out of the sessions," she said.

Rashard Evans, a junior at Goldsboro, also returned.

"Miss Kisha invited me," he said. "I didn't know if it was going to be interesting or not, but it was."

Sade Rauch and Jahlisa Mungo, both students at Goldsboro High, attended for the first time on Saturday.

Sade said she decided to go, then "kept saying (to Jahlisa), 'You better come, girl, and sign up. It's going to be fun.'"

Jahlisa said she saw it as opportunity to meet new people, "have fun and learn some stuff."

Sissy Lee-Elmore, executive director of WATCH, credited Miss Floyd along with health educators Flora Wilson and Kristal Jones with doing "a phenomenal job of setting this program up again this year. The kids really got a lot out of it last year and we hope it will be an annual event."

Officer Nicki Artis of Goldsboro Police is also school resource officer at Goldsboro High School. He said he was glad the summit was brought back this year.

"I think it's a great thing through WATCH and Wayne Memorial Hospital. The kids need this, they really do," he said.

Growing up in the inner city of Washington, D.C., Artis said he has witnessed some of what local youths have experienced.

"Some of these kids have (difficult) backgrounds. Some of them are taking care of themselves, raising their brothers and sisters, moms and dads are in jail," he said.

Having events like the summit, as well as other efforts where the community supports its young people, is always heartwarming, he said.

"I love it when the community comes together for these kids," he said. "It takes the community and parents coming together. It's everybody's job."