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Summit focuses on helping teens

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Kayland Hagwood

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For The Lancaster News

More than 150 teens and adults entered University of South Carolina Lancaster’s Bradley Arts & Sciences Building on a red carpet on the night March 28. Paparazzi were cheering and taking pictures and Power 98’s mid-day on-air personality Adrien “Vonyetta” Lake greeted them.

It was all for the first VIP Teen Summit, an event to promote alcohol and drug awareness among youth, Lake said.

“As a young person growing up there was always these types of things,” Lake said. “There was temptation, there was peer pressure and (I’ll do) anything that I can do to help the community and to help the youth not follow the same footsteps or paths that I’ve seen other people take.

“We just want to push youth in the right direction and that is what this is all about and that is what drove me here today.”

Lake, along with USCL students Aliya Byrd and Reggie Hinson, were the masters of ceremonies for the event.

USCL’s TRIO members gave out prizes for small competitions like the best dancer and who can yell the loudest.

R&B singer/songwriter Marcus Allen was one of the performers invited to attend the event hosted by “Our Pages Inspirational Magazine.”

“I was inspired to attend because I’d be able to help young people in the community by giving them some insight on life,” Allen said.

Gospel rap artist Young Micah was also one of the speakers who addressed the crowd.

He spoke on the difficulty of getting into the music industry and urged the crowd to stay in school.

“It might seem glamourous,” Micah said. “You might think you want that life, but it’s a lot of hard work and it’s a lot of stuff you might not know about – sacrifices. If I had to say anything, I would say stay in school, but if [music] is what you really wanna do, go for it.”

Keynote speakers, Bridget and Mike Croucth, also addressed the audience. The couple struggled with drugs for more than 20 years and urged the crowd against using any form of illegal substance.

“I wanted to fit in with the crowd. I wanted to be like everybody else,” Bridget Croucth said. “So, I did it for a long period of time and I just thank God. I truly thank God for delivering me.”

“Our Pages Inspirational Magazine” owner Tika Griffin said the couple has an “awesome” testimony on how God delivered them from drugs and kept them clean for almost a year now.

There was a question-and-answer session after the couple spoke. Young Micah, USCL student Wayne Blakeney and Faith, Hope & Victory Christian Church member Melanie Sellars joined the couple on the panel.

Community youth member Amber Pelham asked what youth should do who are battling with their faith in God

“When it comes to talking to The Lord I’m honest with him, he will help you,” Blakeney said. “God placed me in situations to strengthen me. What I’ve learned from most of what I’ve been through is that if I want to keep progressing then I need to stay focused on him.”

Griffin wrapped up the night with a call to worship.

“God said if there are any of you who needs prayer, who wants to receive salvation, he’s here,” Griffin said. “We have pastors and ministers in here tonight that would love to pray with you, that would love to lead you to the salvation.”

Community youth member Lyric Drakeford said the VIP Teen Summit helped her realize something that she normally could not get from regular church services.

“A lot of times when kids go to church, you feel like the pastor isn’t speaking to you because you’re a child, but here it was different,” Drakeford said, “Hearing other people’s testimonies, you know it’s true and you know that God truly does love you.”

After the event, Jewell Gulledge said the conference made a difference for her.

“It was so inspiring,” Gulledge said. “I never cry, I’m not an emotional person but I cried so hard tonight.”

To get involved with “Our Pages,” call Griffin at (803) 287-8417 or email ourpagesourviews@gmail.com.