Bright eyed and full of laughter, a group of 100 Halifax County teenagers came together Saturday to inspire each other at the Second Annual Teen Summit hosted by Halifax Leadership Equity Project at Halifax Community College in Weldon.
They were busy with workshops in the morning, but the afternoon brought an open-mic talent show, food, games and companionship. Yet they knew why they were there.
Ja’Muan Webb, 19, is a student at Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte majoring in business management. He has been involved since the Leadership Project was founded.
“It’s about being an asset to Halifax County and helping to change the inequity that exists,” Webb said. “You have to build the change that you want to see. You can make a difference at a younger age if you start now.”
Webb said he would like to see improvements in education.
“I want kids to have the opportunities to continue to a post-secondary school,” he said. “That creates job opportunities for them. Halifax County ranks second to last (in unemployment). And you should always do something that you enjoy.”
Charmuka Randolph, 17, of Scotland Neck, said she is about to graduate from Southeast Halifax High School. She said she wants to go to college in Elizabeth City and major in mass communication and minor in sports management. She also said she has been closely involved with the Leadership Project.
“It means making a difference in my community,” she said. “It has opened my life, not just for me, but for other people.”
Besides being an athlete, Randolph has a desire to become a news anchor.
“I’m interested in the news,” she said. “I read newspapers. I like to be able to debate what’s going on.”
D’Asia Garner, 17, will graduate from Roanoke Rapids High School in 2015. She said her favorite class is Junior ROTC.
“I’m going into the Air Force; I want to be a cook and be in active duty,” she said, adding she wants to be a member of the Airborne Division although she’s never been up in an airplane. “I see myself living on a military base. I want to retire from the Air Force.”
After that, Garner said she would like to open her own bakery. The leadership project, she said, has also helped her find direction,
“This helps me stand out in my community,” she said. “It lets me know I’m not alone. I feel like if I’m not connected to my community, I don’t know where I came from.”
Sen. Angela Bryant, D-Rocky Mount, helped spearhead the event, which connected 100 teenagers ages 13 to 19, and 50 adults.
“Our goal is to empower youths and adult leaders to change their community,” she said. “We don’t want hopelessness, passivity and non action. We want to increase college going, healthy outcomes and successful like choices for our youth and families.”
She said so many came to the event that they ran out of food.
“We exceeded our expectations,” she said, laughing.
For more information, the project has a Facebook page atwww.facebook.com/VISIONSHLEP or contact Aletha Willingham at 252-442-8659.