Bi-county health summit aims to promote better teen lifestyles -- Gazette.Net



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As area teens begin their summer breaks away from classrooms or start their first days as high school graduates, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties hosted a collaborative program to encourage healthy lifestyles and promote positive futures through discussions, workshops and even Zumba exercises.

“Your Today Matters,” a bi-county teen health summit, was funded by grants from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities for the Montgomery’s and Prince George’s health departments.

About 25 area youth attended the event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in Camp Springs. Organizers said they were hoping for 200 area youth to attend and could not point to a reason for the low turnout, saying that the event was well advertised.

Temple Hills resident Andre White, 17, a rising senior at Clinton Christian School, said the event is very timely given that this was the first weekend after high school graduations and he said some of his friends who have graduated high school are now wondering what to do and where to go.

“This is a way to somehow keep kids off the street,” he said. “This is important and it’s something that everybody should listen to. This isn’t something to take lightly.”

Guest speakers shared how teens can create obtainable life goals.

“Life is really about choices, every day we have to make a choice,” said Yvette Griffin, a registered nurse in the Prince George’s County’s health department’s healthy teens and young adult program. Griffin led a presentation called “Get Your Plan On!” and spoke on developing a road map for one’s life and setting goals.

Miss Black Maryland 2012 Ebony Andrews spoke about following dreams and overcoming challenges.

“I hope they take away from this inspiration and insight and that they can become confident with the decisions that they make,” said Andrews, 25, of Camp Springs.

Teen male and female groups discussed managing stress, taking care of their bodies and establishing healthy relationships.

Michelle Hinto, a Prince George’s Health Department representative who helped coordinate the event, said she hopes that area youth take time to think about their futures in educational, professional and physical aspects.

“This was all about providing information to teens for things like teen pregnancy, career planning, how to develop into young men and women and how to develop a plan for healthy eating and fitness,” said Hinto. “We want them to be motivated and develop a life plan for themselves to achieve their life goals.”

Angela Ewing-Boyd, an event coordinator from the Montgomery County Infant Mortality Reduction Pilot Project “Healthy Babies Begin with a Healthy You,” said this was a chance to give teens a moment to answer difficult questions about their futures.

“Youth tend to be rushing through life,” she said. “We’re creating a space for them to pause and in that space do some planning.”

Ewing-Boyd said a second bi-county summit will be held next spring.

djgross@gazette.net