Local teens get some worldly advice

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Local youngsters heard from professionals in a variety of work environments during the seventh annual Project Hope Teen Summit Saturday at the Bogalusa High School auditorium.

Approximately 55 youngsters were divided into four teams. Eight adult mentors took turns telling the youth about the pitfalls of following those who are going down the wrong path. The youth were told how they could begin the road to success.

Mentors included Emma Dixon, Darryl Richmond, Edward Ratcliff, Tina Ratliff, Terra Allen, Philece Craft, Spade Morris and Myleeza Mingo.

Dixon spoke to the youth about financial literacy. She is the president of the Louisiana Reinvestment Coalition. Richmond shared with the youth about becoming an engineer, while Ratcliff warned the group about drug abuse and building self-esteem. Ratliff shared her experiences of becoming an attorney, and Allen is a respiratory therapist. Craft is an elementary school teacher in Hattiesburg, Miss., and Morris talked of earning your way if you don’t excel in athletics in high school. College student Myleeza Mingo shared her experiences of reaching college. She is a junior at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

Volunteers during the Teen Summit included Jasmine Johnson, Kendria Hill, Dezhauna Anderson, Kelli Levi and Presious Johnson. Jamal Richmond spearheaded the event. Johnson is the 2014 Project H.O.P.E Scholarship recipient. She is a student at Southern University. Jefferson is a member of Project H.O.P.E Youth Corps and Future Leaders of Washington Parish. She is a junior at Bogalusa High School.

An example of what mentors shared came from the talk Morris shared with the teenagers:

“Don’t be ashamed if you didn’t make the drill team,” Morris said. “There are other avenues to climb. Apply your energy to your books. Don’t think that if you’re not on the baseball or football team you don’t have the goods. You do, but you’ve but to apply yourself. If you apply yourself and have that direction, you’re going to find that gravy. Nobody is going to give you anything, and I use student-athletes as a reference. Have the mindset that that nobody else can bring to the table what I can. I’m willing to travel all these roads to get to the best roads.”

Richmond said he was disappointed by the low turnout, but added he was pleased by the turnout at the Parish Showcase later Saturday night.

“People always say there is nothing to do in Bogalusa, but we have something like this, and you have to drag them here,” Richmond said. “We had over 100 attend last year. If we can save just one, we’ve done our job.”

Richmond said approximately 200 attended the Parish Showcase and all six groups that performed received a donation from Project H.O.P.E.