(9/29/23) LAKE PROVIDENCE, La. — Youth across the nation are celebrating National 4-H Week Oct. 1-7. This year, 4-H is focusing on identifying solutions to eliminate the opportunity gap that affects 55 million kids across America.
On Sept. 15, 4-H’ers participated in a 4-H Teen Leadership Summit in Lake Providence that encouraged open conversations about the challenges affecting today's youth which includes bridging opportunity gaps for Louisiana youth. LSU AgCenter 4-H agent Lekeisha Powell said the summit provided a place for youth to engage in candid discussions on advocacy and the critical issues shaping their lives.
“With over 70 youth and adults in attendance, the summit proved to be a dynamic platform for young leaders to connect, learn and discover the tools and insights necessary to drive positive change within their community,” Powell said. “The day unfolded with a diverse array of workshops and a compelling panel discussion.”
The summit included a panel discussion featuring Judge Laurie Brister from the 6th Judicial District Court Division B and Joseph G. Jackson, a registered addiction counselor and certified clinical supervisor. The two offered their expertise and insight to serve as a catalyst for conversations about the challenges facing today's youth. Powell said the event fostered open dialogue on pressing issues influencing their lives and advocacy.
“As a former prosecutor and now a district court judge, I have found that most crimes are related to drug and alcohol abuse. I see the effects of addiction on the individual's body, family and occupation,” Judge Brister said. “It is vital that our youth are informed about the devastating effects of drug and alcohol abuse as well as the legal implications.”
The summit also included a community service component. Participants worked with 4-H citizenship specialist Kimberly Williams and citizenship board advisors Xavier Bell and Betsy Crigler to distribute food through the Northeast Louisiana Food Bank.
“This meaningful community service project allowed attendees to make a direct impact on those in need and instilled the value of hard work and giving back,” Williams said.
4-H’ers also took part in a Health Rocks workshop led by the 4-H healthy living specialist Claire Zak. This program aims to reduce tobacco, alcohol and drug use by youth, promoting healthier choices and behaviors among young people.
“By attending this summit, I gained knowledge that will empower me to become a better leader in my community,” said Yessica Hernandez, a senior at General Trass High School.
During the summit, youth explored educational exhibits including the Northeast Louisiana Highway Safety Partnership, Region 8 Opioid Prevention and Southern University Communities of Color Network. These exhibits offered information and resources to attendees.
“The 4-H Teen Leadership Summit successfully encouraged young leaders to become change agents in their own communities, igniting a passion for advocacy and community involvement,” Powell said. “The event was a testament to the power of youth voice and the importance of creating spaces for meaningful dialogue.”
4-H’ers who attended the 4-H Teen Leadership Summit in Lake Providence on Sept. 15 participated in a service project with the Northeast Louisiana Food Bank. Pictured are 4-H’er Jaheem Williams, 4-H citizenship specialist Kimberly Williams, citizenship board advisor Xavier Bell, 4-H’ers Ja’Marion Ware, Donnell Nelson, Zamoria Siggers, Ter’Larrnee Newson and J’Xavier Lewis. Photo provided by Lakeisha Powell.