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HomeNewsLocal newsUVI Cell’s Youth Summit “EmpowerU” Ignites, Inspires and Embarks Young People

UVI Cell’s Youth Summit “EmpowerU” Ignites, Inspires and Embarks Young People

Young people register at the EmpowerU Youth Summit at UVI’s Great Hall. (Source photo by Diana Dias)

UVI Cell’s Youth Summit “EmpowerU” ignited, inspired, and embarked a room of about 100 young people at the Great Hall on the University of the Virgin Islands Albert Sheen Campus on Saturday.

The goal of the completely free, half-day summit was to provide an interactive opportunity with real talk on mental health, leadership, tackling challenges, and unlocking their potential.

“The summit was our opportunity to connect with our young people. We targeted the youth between 12-18 years of age to give them a chance to build on things that we have seen been an issue in our community, as well as things that have been a concern for them or should be at this point in their development,” said Latashia Edwards, Ph.D., UVI-CELL community engagement manager.

Breakout sessions took place during the EmpowerU Youth Summit. (Source photo by Diana Dias)

The morning began with morning registration while a DJ played music, then stretches, a panel discussion and a presentation from a speech pathologist. Every presentation was engaging for students and required some level of participation. Edwards said that their goal was to make it more valuable but different so that it is more personalized while discussing what parents are typically concerned about and what kids are concerned about as well.

Later, young people went into breakout sessions, had lunch and listened to another panel discussion on mental health. Presenters for the second-panel discussion were Moderator and Co-Founder of Greater Changes, Tarik McMillan, Miss St. Croix Festival Queen Na’Zirah Armstrong, Miss Junior St. Croix Alayah Watley, Miss St. Croix Educational Complex Nayelis St. Omer and Founder of Healing the Youth Franco Lopez.

From left, Moderator Tarik McMillan with Miss Junior St. Croix Alayah Watley, Miss St. Croix Festival Queen Na’Zirah Armstrong, Miss St. Croix Educational Complex Nayelis, founder of Healing the Youth Franco Lopez. (Source photo by Diana Dias)

The event collaborated with community organizations, including Youth Empowerment Services, LAPC, law enforcement, military, Blue Tarp Productions, and others.

Edwards said that the goal of the summit is not to be “a one and done but a continual process that our community can look forward to and bring other partners that can share and connect with us as well.”

Edwards said that once her team has collected their feedback, they will revamp and then make sure it is what is needed to help students grow in areas that help them be successful, productive, and contributing members of our community.

As a former high school counselor, Edwards said, “Success is based on your measure and your mark, but what it does mean is that you can provide for yourself and provide for a family if you choose one and be self-sustaining whether it is working on positive body image, or figuring out themselves, or figuring out how to navigate what comes next.

She also hopes that students grasp at least one thing that was impactful for them and one thing that they can use to be life-changing for them as they continue.

“I hope as they leave today, we ignite, inspire, and embark on a journey with them,” said Edwards.

Other sessions of the EmpowerU Youth Summit will take place on St. Thomas on Feb. 24 at the UVI Innovation Center and on St. John at the Julius Sprauve School on March 9.

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