‘We are stronger together’: Students gather for annual youth conference | Featured Story

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BATAVIA — This year’s Youth Conference brought together youth from Genesee and Orleans counties at Genesee Community College to showcase “We Are Stronger Together,” the theme of the event.

About 175 students from every school district in Genesee County and three districts in Orleans County – Albion, Lyndonville and Kendall gathered in the gymnasium to hear keynote speaker Earl Ameen before splitting into groups to participate in various workshops.

“It’s a great day of leadership for these seventh and eighth graders,” said program coordinator Chelsea Elliott. “With everything we’ve been through in the past two years, everyone is so on one side or the other with everything. We just thought it would be better to have “We are better together” (as the theme), because we are.

This year’s conference was the 32nd annual event of its kind. It is organized to address social issues of interest to middle school age youth.

Ameen came from Texas to talk to the students. Her message inspired young people to believe in themselves, embrace love, and become more kind and compassionate, while respecting each other.

One of the things Ameen told the students about was throwing a party in his basement when he was about 12 years old. He said it was a good time,

“I remember that there were two children from the neighborhood who came. Those guys were some of the toughest,” he said. “They came and they are sitting on the corner of the sofa, which is blue velvet. Their side of the room starts smoking – don’t smoke cigarettes, start smoking weed. One of them pulls a can of beer out of his pocket and opens it. They’re sitting there in my house, smoking weed and drinking beer.

Ameen said he had to make a decision about who he loved the most.

“Did I like… being one of the cool guys. If I was going to tell them, ‘You can’t do that. Put it aside,’ and then there was a consequence — that I wouldn’t be liked, that I couldn’t hang out with the cool guys anymore,” Ameen said. “Or, my parents, whose house this is, whose rule was, ‘No smoking, no drinking alcohol…in their house. “”

He said that being 12 at the time, it was a real decision for him.

“It was important, what I chose. Long story short, I had to tell them to get out of my house,” Ameen said. I didn’t see myself as strong as I really was. I didn’t think I could resist their threats. Nevertheless, he decided that he loved and cared more for his parents than for his parents. two party guys.

“I told them, ‘Get up. Get out of my house,” Ameen said of the two guys. “And they did. I was really surprised by this.

The bottom line was choosing what was right in his parents’ home rather than choosing what was right by these two guys, the speaker said.

Elliott said a variety of social service organizations held the workshops for the students. They were created to be interesting, engaging, and practical while teaching students valuable lessons. Some of the workshop topics were: healthy eating habits, building functional relationships, geocaching, learning about disabilities, team building, and internet safety.

For more information about this year’s Genesee County Youth Conference or to find out how to get involved in the next event, call the County Youth Bureau at (585) 344-3960.

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