Baton Rouge, LA - Opelousas held its first Teen Summit on November 22 attracting a small cheering crowd .The the City of Opelousas sponsored the summit aimed at helping stop teen violence. The speakers ranged from former coach Raymond Duplechain to Dr. Aubrey Williams with Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives, a satellite entity of the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center.
"I didn't know what to expect, but it was real. They gave them the Word, no ifs, ands or buts about it," said Elizabeth Dave, who brought her two teenage children to the summit, held in the teen center in South City Park.
Community activist Tyrone Glover, who organized the summit, said he and the other presenters hope to make this a regular event.
"We'd like to do this at least four times a year. We definitely want to help our youth and parents," Glover said.
The program was prompted by the death of a young man earlier this year who was killed in a knife fight with another teenager.
"There is too much violence going on. We need to start cleaning up the problem," Glover said.
During the program, Glover spoke of his own youth growing up in Opelousas, which saw him involved in many fights and drug dealing.
"I was part of the problem for a long time. Now I'm losing sleep trying to be part of the solution, but I can't do it alone. We need everyone to get involved," Glover told the assembled parents and teenagers.
Glover then introduced Lt. Donald Young, one of the Opelousas Police officers who helped get him off the street by arresting him.
"I'm a product of the streets from a single parent home," Young told the teens. "I know the streets are tough and peer pressure is running wild. We are losing a generation to crime and senseless violence."
While giving advice to the teens, Young also spoke to the parents, telling them the solution begins in the home. "It is all about keeping the lines of communication open," Young told the parents.
He also urged the teens to show respect to their parents. "They have been there."
Young then introduced former coach Raymond Duplechain, who Young said served as the father figure he did not have at home when he was growing up.
Duplechain's message was about choices. "If you want to change the results, you need to change yourself. Everything you do is a choice," Duplechain said.
Next, Dr. Aubrey Williams with the Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives spoke on the importance of respect and emphasized that the goal of the meeting was to help young people understand respect for themselves and others.
"Respect is the first step. If they don't have respect for others, they can't have respect for themselves," Williams said.
From this initial meeting, Williams said the group hopes to work with the Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives on a number of workshops to share lessons on leadership, character building and alternatives.
The Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives is a satellite entity of the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center. For more information, contact the Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives at 943-2410.
The Opelousas Daily World covered the event. The article is available at: http://www.dailyworld.com/article/20111124/NEWS01/111240312/Summit-seeks-end-teen-violence
Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Southern-University-Ag-Center/67357504781