12/14/08 — Stars urge students: Stay away from drugs

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Stars urge students: Stay away from drugs

By Dennis Hill
Published in News on December 14, 2008 2:00 AM

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Hip hop star Cheryl "Salt" Wray speaks to an audience at Goldsboro High School on Saturday.

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Rapper Christopher "Play" Martin is one of the speakers at a violence awareness summit sponsored by Smart Choices for Youth.

Two renowned rap artists visited Goldsboro High School on Saturday to help convince young people that violence and drugs can destroy them.

Cheryl "Salt" James Wray of the duo Salt-N-Pepa, and Christopher "Play" Martin of Kid-N-Play, spoke to a packed house in the school auditorium.

They urged those present to avoid violence and to make themselves good role models for children.

The second annual Youth Violence Awareness Summit was sponsored by Smart Choice for Youth. The organization's executive director, Daryl Woodard, said the two stars had decided to give back to the public by making such speaking stops and asked other adults to give back by becoming mentors.

"They want to give back, and we are asking you to do the same," Woodard told the crowd that ranged in age from preschoolers to senior citizens. "There are hundreds of kids in this community that need to have some to take time with them."

Woodard said a mentor can be of any age and that everyone has something good in them that they can impart to someone younger.

Ms. Wray talked about her upbringing in a rough Brooklyn neighborhood and how violence affected her early years. Fighting was something that happened every day, she said.

But she said she learned her lessons and that now that God has entered her life, she feels the need to spread the message of peace to others.

"There is a space in our hearts that is meant for God, and God only," she said. "But we try to fill it with something else."

She said it is important for young people to develop good self-esteem and that drugs and gangs might seem to a young person like good ways to build that self-esteem but that in the end they will bring them down, not lift them up.

Martin said his rebirth as a Christian is what started him on his true path to success. A successful recording and acting career preceded his becoming born again. Since then, he has focused on Christian hip-hop and is an instructor of hip-hop history at North Carolina Central University. He said his new career is far more rewarding than his first.

"These individuals have a testimony," Woodard told the crowd. "That means they have been tested. Don't think that you're the only one going through a test."