To honor World Mental Health Day, Light & Unite RED Week, and Substance Abuse Prevention Month, a range of Milwaukee youth-serving organizations, advocates, and coalitions joined together on October 10 to present two virtual youth summits to engage and uplift our community’s young people. The summits stressed the benefits of living substance free, setting and achieving positive personal goals even during a pandemic and social unrest, and reaching out to trusted peers and adults who can help during times of stress and crisis.
This year’s annual Youth Summit was broadcast at NeuLife Studios and organized by Neu-Life Community Development. Neu-Life youth created the complex production, which combined live footage shot in in the studio, interactive games and quizzes, pre-recorded video, and virtual line dancing with Nzinga Khalid. The powerful keynote speakers included Muhibb Dyer, Kwabena Antoine Dixon, Jeremy Triblett, Khalil Coleman, and Chanda Harris.
Dyer, from Flood the Hood with Dreams and the I Will Not Die Young Campaign, kicked off the event by acknowledging that “It’s harder to have a dream in 2020.” But he stressed that “there’s a world that belongs to you” and “you are too precious to throw your life away” before leading the participants in his “I will not die young” chant.
Milwaukee County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition’s Mental Health and Wellness Coordinator Jeremy Triblett explored his personal story and how he overcame the many challenges put in his way. He offered up his “spider bite moment,” the moment he went from being unconfident and turned into “Spider-Man,” and encouraged the youth watching to use challenges, obstacles, and opportunities to motivate them to achieve greatness in their own spider bite moments. “You are one choice away from the best day of your life,” he told them.
Participants also viewed the Milwaukee youth-created PSA “My New Friends” and were encouraged to get involved in Vision 2020, organized by The Parenting Network to showcase young people’s creativity and positive aspirations.
The youth summit was sponsored by MCSAP, Neu-Life Community Development, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, Safe & Sound, and Light & Unite RED.
The second annual LGBTQ+ Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Summit, aired Saturday evening, brought together LGBTQ+ youth, allies, and organizations in a virtual resource fair, panel discussion, and performances. The event was organized by Safe & Sound’s 27th Street West Drug Free Communities Project and the City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance with partners 53206 Drug-Free Communities Project, MCSAP, and Light & Unite RED.
Advocate Elle Halo emceed the presentations, and said she was excited to participate after last year’s inaugural summit. “I look forward to this event all year.” She cautioned the youth about giving into pressure from peers and adults to use drugs or alcohol. “Trust your instincts,” she advised.
The event culminated with performances by Becky Essence Hall, Jaclyn Jill, Mikey Gunn, JJ ORyder, and Coco Monet shot around Milwaukee.
Congratulations to the organizers and participants for showing great creativity and dedication to the health and wellbeing of our youth during a turbulent year. See you in 2021!