This blog post is actually from an interview with my 12 year-old-son, JR, on his experience at his first-ever African American Youth Think Tank event. He is sharing his thoughts, and he also took the photos you will see below. I think he did pretty well for his first time assisting with a blog post and trying to use a camera on subjects in constant motion!
The 4th Annual Youth Empowerment Conference was held on February 16 at the Roosevelt Middle School in Cedar Rapids. The event was attended by local schools in the area, with the Iowa City region also busing students up for the event. This year’s theme was “Everyone Has A Purpose; What Is Mine?”. JR says his purpose is to be a foreign-exchange student and visit other cities around the world.
The morning consisted of inspirational speakers; an explanation of what the Think Tank is (a way for people to discuss current issues, hold seminars, and provide inspiration for our youth); and several sessions with local leaders Dr. Carols Grant, Kim Fitten, and Dr. Okpara Rice. JR’s favorite speaker of the morning was Miss Iowa and KZIA 102.9 Radio Personality, Jenny V.
The keynote speaker of the conference was Jason Sole, PhD, from Chicago. Check out a previous post about Jason here. JR enjoyed this speech and was impressed with how Jason turned his life around to go to college after being in a gang.
Local businesses offered a career fair for the youth to dream and plan for what they want to do in the future. JR’s favorite business owner was John Grant from Chameleon Candy. John’s business serves “Little Jimmy’s Italian Ices” at local events, and he can also be booked for private parties and corporate events. Check out his website here.
At the end of the event, local artists provided a live concert for the kids. Rapper Jordan Burgett from Cedar Rapids performed first. Dizzy was up next, and Buddha was the final rapper. Buddha was impressive with all of the big words he was able to rhyme. The concert closed with R&B artist Alicia Monee, whose beautiful voice filled the auditorium. JR’s favorite song was her performance of “The Man In The Mirror” by Michael Jackson. Everyone was up out of their seats and dancing along!
The Youth Empowerment Conference is a free, annual event to support youth in our area. For more information, see the African American Youth Think Tank Facebook page.