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Enthusiasm high at Youth Summit

Spoken-word poet Reginald Sweet was one of the key speakers at the first 4GIVEN Youth Empowerment Summit Saturday at Albany State University.

Spoken-word poet Reginald Sweet was one of the key speakers at the first 4GIVEN Youth Empowerment Summit Saturday at Albany State University.

ALBANY — The 4GIVEN Youth Empowerment Summit participants Saturday expended enough energy to substitute for the nearest nuclear power plant.

“This is part of our Parents for a Change program. We saw events where the people just drop kids off. We wanted to involve the parents and the kids with the community,” said Cheryl Calhoun, founding partner with the Albany Police Department’s Lt. Tony Moore.

“We want children to know they are forgiven and can start over,” she said.

“We want to assist them and encourage them to a good beginning.”

Spoken-word artist Reginald Sweet hosted the event in the Albany State University ACAD building.

Sweet had the audience applauding, laughing and shouting endearments from the beginning of the event.

The speakers included event sponsor Chris Warren, a candidate for State Court judge; former gang member and nationally known motivational speaker Joseph Jennings, and local founder of the “Takin it Back” youth program Nichelle Miller.

Miller’s message had a more serious tone than the dance contest, music performances and sharp hilarity of Sweet when she told her story.

Miller said she knew a girl — an A student — who had the clothes, loving parents and a bright future. Around the age of 17, the girl met a “hot” guy.

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Nichelle Miller, founder of “Takin it Back,” was one of the key speakers at the first 4GIVEN Youth Empowerment Summit Saturday at Albany State University.

“You girls know what it’s like,” she added.

For the first two months, the boy was nice, lovey dovey, in fact.

He gave her roses and held the door open. He validated her. The hook was in.

He turned verbally abusive, emotionally abusive and physically abusive.

In one of those mysteries that happen all the time, the girl always went back to her abusive boyfriend for years.

Eventually, the girl sat in a car while her boyfriend went into a house and bought drugs.

The girl was busted along with him for so many charges that the list seemed to go on forever.

It looked like a life sentence for her.

She tried suicide, but ended up in prison for 11 months and 29 days. “That girl was me,” Miller said.

Miller said she has turned her mess into a message to keep others like her from making the same mistakes she made.

If the applause was any indication, Miller has the validation she can count on.

Local officials who attended included Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard and Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul.

Dougherty County coroner candidate Michael Fowler also attended.