ELIZABETH – Seven Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County, Elizabeth Club members joined more than 1,800 teens in Atlanta from March 21-24 for Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s 46th National Keystone Conference. This annual conference is one of the largest, most established youth leadership conferences in the country, and the most anticipated among Boys & Girls Club teens.
Elizabeth Club Keystone Advisor and longtime staff member Lakeisha Oates led the Union County group. “Our members take this conference very seriously. They work hard all year long in school, in their community and within our Club to earn the chance to take part in this exciting annual event,” said Oates. This year’s conference was themed, “ATL–All Teens Lead,” as teen leadership is needed now more than ever in the U.S. Statistics show that more than 1 in 4 students fails to graduate from high school each year; 1 in 3 kids is overweight or obese; and the teen unemployment rate is at a record high. To address these and other challenges, Keystone Conference participants discussed solutions and developed action plans for addressing the most pressing issues facing youth in their communities.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County’s CEO Russell Triolo said that” it gives me a sense of satisfaction to know that these youth, worked so hard all year long because they care so deeply for who they are and because they understand what it means to take part in their own community.” The Keystone Club Program is both the Boys & Girls Clubs of Union County’s, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier teen leadership program. Keystone Clubs are teen leadership groups within the Club that focus on leadership development through community service projects. This unique leadership development experience provides opportunities for young people ages 14 to 18 to participate in club and community projects in three focus areas: academic success, career preparation and community service.
Teens heard from a wide array of motivational speakers and entertainers, including musical performances by recording artist and actress Jordin Sparks; hip hop recording artist B.o.B; and pop group OMG Girlz. Motivational sessions will featured rap and hip hop pioneers Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of Run-D.M.C., Doug. E. Fresh andDJ Spinderella of Salt-n-Pepa; professional skateboarder Preston Pollard; and WWE wrestler and actress Eve Torres.
Teens also volunteered throughout Atlanta, participating in interactive workshops on everything from bullying prevention, financial literacy and college preparedness to robotics, golf and movie making; and had time for various social activities.
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