Barrow County Family Connection held a youth conference on June 3rd. Children came from surrounding counties for the event. The conference included a Teen Maze. The maze represented choices and how making the wrong choices could create a “maze of consequences”. Our MSF Juniors participated in the event by holding a No Bullying Campaign within the conference. Colette Onenda volunteered with the Juniors to host the campaign, and she was also asked to be a guest speaker at the event.
MSF was able to interview Colette after the conference.
MSF: Why did you decide to volunteer?
Colette: I want to make an impact on children’s lives. It doesn’t matter if it’s one person or if it’s many. I just want to make sure before I leave any place that a child feels special and that they can do something positive with their lives.
MSF: What do you think that the participants got out of today’s event?
Colette: It’s okay to talk about sexual education and bullying and how it affects graduating from school.
MSF: What will you take away from this experience?
Colette: It can never be too early to start up a conversation with children about sex and bullying. A lot of times we take for gratitude the inspiration our stories can give to a child that may be in the same situation. So we should learn how to put our pride and/or guilt aside to help children.
Sharon Williford, Barrow County Connection Board Member, also weighed in on the event.
“We decided last year that the Summer Youth Conference needed to be reorganized. Our attendance was low, and the kids did not enjoy just being lectured. There was not enough planned that allowed the kids to be hands on or interactive. Denise Peters said that she felt that we needed to do a Teen Maze. I told Denise that if she felt like we could make it happen, then I would support her 100%. During the planning process of the Teen Maze, we had some people tell us that we could not pull it off because it took some of the neighboring counties an entire year to plan it but when someone tells us that we can’t, it just pushed Denise and I even harder to make it happen.
From all the positive feedback that we have received, we can honestly say that it was a huge success. We had the kids do pre and post surveys, and about 95 % of them said that they enjoyed it, they would abstain from having sex, if they chose to have sex they would make sure that they used some type of protection, they would not get in the car with anyone who had been drinking, and that they would not drink and drive. Thanks to the Jrs. Myles Singleton Foundation being there to educate the kids on bullying, we had one girl who will now receive counseling. She had been bullied for some time now. The Jrs. made her feel comfortable enough to disclose that type of information to them. They should be very proud and pat themselves on the back. Three girls were so moved by Colette and McKenzie’s stories, that they actually asked to step out so that they could call their mothers and apologize to them and tell them that they loved them. I have had some people asking us will we do another one this year, but our ultimate goal is to do the Teen Maze at both of the high schools here in Barrow County. The Teen Maze that we just did was scaled back quite a bit. If we do it in the high schools, we will add some other aspects to it.
It will truly require more community support and more funding. We plan on going before the board and presenting them with our idea and if they approve it, we will recruit more committee members and begin the planning process.
Again I want to thank you and all of the other members of The Myles Singleton Foundation for always supporting us! We are so fortunate to have community supporters like you!”
The MSF Juniors were happy they participated in the event and glad they actually helped someone. They are looking forward to contributing at similar events in other parts of Georgia and in Louisiana.