Teen Summit, Anti-Bullying Spirit Week give hope, help

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Being a teenager can be quite difficult.

From peer pressure and trying to fit in to juggling school, work and extra-curricular activity commitments and making plans for the future, the teenage years can seem very overwhelming.

However, with guidance, determination and a willingness to listen to adults who want to help, there is hope.

The Axis 1 Center of Barnwell is a great local resource for many folks. This Saturday they are partnering with several community organizations to sponsor the inaugural Barnwell County Teen Summit.

The focus of the summit is avoiding teen pregnancy, but they will also encourage youth ages 12-18 to stay in school and stay focused on their goals. The summit will include a variety of speakers and activities.

Williston native Rafael Bush, who plays football for the Detroit Lions, is scheduled to be the motivational speaker. It’s always nice to see locals return home and share their experiences to help the younger generation. You never know the impact your story might have on someone else.

We believe this is going to be a wonderful event that can positively impact many of our local teens. We encourage students from across Barnwell County to attend along with their parents as there will also be parent mini-sessions.

Barnwell County has made great strides in recent years as its teen pregnancy rate has dropped from the third highest in South Carolina to number 30 out of 46 counties. This is something to be proud of, but there is still a lot of work to be done. We believe this teen summit is a great resource to further improve our county’s rate by spreading knowledge to teenagers and parents.

After the summit, we hope parents will have a conversation with their teens about the importance of abstinence so they are not at risk for pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. It’s not an easy or comfortable topic for either side, but it’s an important one to have.

The teen summit will be held from 8 a.m. to noon at the Williston School District auditorium, which is located in the district office (between Williston-Elko middle and high schools).

We hope to see you there!

We also hope students and parents will support another important event coming up next week – Anti-Bullying Spirit Week.

Just as the pressure to have sex is prevalent in the lives of teenagers, bullying is another issue that can seriously impact teenagers.

Bullying can lead to bad grades, changes in mood and even death.

That’s why school resource officer Rodney Brown came up with the idea for Anti-Bullying Spirit Week at Barnwell Elementary and Guinyard-Butler Middle schools, which will be held March 27-31.

Following the same principles of a typical spirit week, fun activities will be held at both schools each day next week. The idea is to prevent students from bullying by having fun, building unity and showing it is fine to be different.

While most activities are simply for the students, parents are invited to assemblies at the schools on Friday, March 31. It’s a great way to gain needed tools to talk to students about why it is not acceptable to be a bully as well as learn the warning signs a student might display if they are being bullied.

We thank Deputy Brown for taking the initiative to be proactive in the schools he works at because these events have the potential to change lives.

We hope students realize that bullying has no place in our schools.

Being a teenager is hard enough, so don’t make it harder for some by bullying.

We can accomplish so much more by working together and learning to accept one another.