"Teen Summit" helping kids reach goals - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

"Teen Summit" helping kids reach goals

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December 15, 2003

Cuthbert-- Rule number one: no teachers and no parents allowed. Andrew College's "Teen Summit" is really just for teens, or in this case, pre-teens.

150 sixth graders had a chance to express how they feel about school, their folks, and the future--all behind closed doors.

There are no teachers here, or parents listening in. Inside this Andrew College classroom are 21 12-year-olds, three college students, and one dynamic speaker who has been there before, "Cause I'm giving them a message that I myself... I come from a negative hard core inner city environment."

While these kids are from mostly rural areas, not inner cities, Marcus Girard does know what it takes to overcome obstacles. Today, he has 50 minutes to teach that lesson, "Fifty minutes inspires, it tries to guide, it tries to give them a higher understanding of what they've been looking at their entire life. For some it just pricks there conscious a little bit, for others it is just not enough time."

But, these kids are making the most of it. The 12-year-olds talked easily about problems at school and at home. 6th grader Scotty Davis says, "He made it free for me to tell my feelings and what's going on in my life."

And that's what this "Teen Summit" is about--making these kids realize they are free to make smart decisions about their future and that people do care, "I know the obstacles I had to overcome but I did not overcome them by myself. I overcame them with people who surrounded me with love and they told me constantly that 'Marcus you can do it, and we are here to support you and we want to see you through.'" A message Marcus Girard is passing on today.

This is the second "Teen Summit" Andrew College has held. But this time around, only sixth graders were invited. That's because research shows 6th grade is one of the most important transitional times for young people.

Posted at 4:09 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com