From staff reports
The Beaufort County Youth Conference took place Sept. 25, marking the 29th year of this unique conference, planned by youth for youth.
The conference was held virtually for the second year in a row. It was well attended, drawing the attention of students from across Beaufort County, other areas of South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina and as far away as Virginia.
This year’s theme was “This is America. Quest for the Best.” The conference’s workshop topics were determined by youth planners during their planning session in April.
Kicking off the conference were greetings from Beaufort County School District Superintendent Frank Rodriquez, Beaufort County Councilman York Glover, S.C. State Representative Michael Rivers, former Mayor of Port Royal Samuel Murray and Port Royal Councilman Darryl Owens.
A highlight of the conference was the keynote message from Dr. Aaron Doctor, a native of St. Helena Island and former youth conference participant. Dr. Doctor shared life-sustaining principles, based on his aspirations and life experiences. He is a third-year resident at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta.
Conference presenters and their workshop topics came out of concerns of the youths and covered Mental Health, Racial and Law Enforcement Issues. They included:
Korey Bromery, “The Racial Divide, Who’s Next? (High School Session)
Heaven Sammir Allah-Davis, “The Racial Divide, Who’s Next?” (Middle School Session)
Shavon Jenkins-Coaxum, COVID 19: Connecting Through Technology, (Middle School Session)
Donnie “D. C. Campbell “Emotions: Why Do I Feel Like This? (High School Session)
Tivonna Taylor Vogt and Crystal Boyd, “Unfair/Unequal: Law Enforcement Treatment Toward People of Color, (Middle and High School Sessions combined).
“The session on police brutality had the most impact on me. It was very informative. What stood out most was the instruction to ‘comply and complain later,’” Youth Planner and conference participant Joshua Knuckles said in a release. “Prior to the presentation, I would have been scared if I was in a car pulled over by the police. After learning from them that the best response is to comply and complain later, I feel reassured that all police officers are not unfair, but most are reasonable.”
“Given the emotional effects of the pandemic on children, the workshop on mental wellness was much needed and wholeheartedly received by the participants,” Isabella Smalls Runnels said.
All youth participants received a conference T-shirt (which was designed by the youth planners), a conference mask and gift a card via mail. The finale of the conference was a performance from Danielle Smalls and Dani’s Dance Dynamics.
The Beaufort County Youth Conference is a collaborative effort between Carae’s Lowcountry Modeling, businesses, agencies, individuals, parents, fraternities, sororities and other local organizations.
The 30th Beaufort County Youth Conference is planned for September 2022.