Young people from around the community, including yellow-shirted PACERS from Morningside Elementary School, attended the Sigma Gamma Rho youth symposium at ASU. (Staff Photo: Jim West)
ALBANY — The Zeta Psi Sigma and Zeta Psi chapters of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority presented its 17th annual youth symposium at Albany State University on Saturday. The symposium is held simultaneously at colleges and universities across the nation, sorority officials say.
Leading with the theme of “Health Choices, Healthy Living, Healthy Generations,” this year’s program was designed to reach young people of the community who have problems making the at-risk for criminal activities, contact with sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy or bullying, sorority officials said.
The lead program, Peer Pressure and Self-Esteem, was conducted by Antonio Leroy, executive director of the Center for African American Males at ASU. In a high-energy presentation, Leroy encouraged young people in the Orene Hall auditorium to resist advice from their friends and acquaintances when that advice could be contrary to what they know is right.
In addition, the youth were encouraged to “know who they are,” and not to let unfortunate circumstance stand in their way of achieving success.
Greg Edwards, Dougherty County district attorney, delivered words of advice for those who may be bullied at school or elsewhere, and even to those who may be bullies.
“Bullying is violent behavior,” Edwards said. “That means as bullies grow older, their behavior is going to become even more violent. Most of the folks who are bullies now are going to wind up as criminals when they’re teenagers or adults.”
Edwards called bullying “the opposite of respect,” and offered a number of ways a situation might be diffused without resorting to violence.
The final program of the day provided information on HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, and was presented by Debra Willingham, coordinator of the Adolescent Health and Youth program of the Department of Public Health, district 8-2.
Willa Williams, a Sigman Gamma Rho official, this year’s symposium was dedicated to the late Mattie Shelton Hill, who had spearheaded ASU youth symposiums since their inception in 1997.