Teen Awareness With Terrie

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Photo above: Terrie Williams signing her book, "Stay Strong," for the youth at Teen Awareness Day
Photo Credit: Iceman Photo's

Story by Brenda Jeanne Wyche

In my day, if a child cussed in front of an elder, we’d get the taste slapped out of our mouths.  These days, try that, and the child’s parent is liable to track you down and shoot you. Thank God for Tanya E. a/k/a Miss Right Now who is on her “Stop Cussin’ Tour” and came thru to show love to the children and youth at the AMAG/Fort Greene Volunteers’ second Teen Awareness Day, Saturday, December 16th at P.S. 46 in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.  PR guru and esteemed author, Terrie Williams, Georgia Woodbine, Author of How To Make Big Bucks Without Selling Your Soul, poet, Shavelle Knox, musician, B’Anka Brown and Tanya E. a/k/a Miss Right Now, Inc., and others came out to spend quality time with some really adorable children and youths with amazing young minds -- giving them inspiration and just spreading love. 

This is the second event in 3 months of the newly instituted program entitled, Teen Awareness Day, which was initiated by AMAG and The Fort Greene Volunteers.  Children and youth come from all over New York City to participate in the day of enlightenment, inspiration and fun while meeting celebrities and enjoying the festivities of the day.  This month, the event was hosted by Tony Herbert of The Professionals, who did his usual excellent job as events host.

Tanya E. a/k/a Miss Right Now, Inc., came, wielding a powerful message for the kids – Stop Cussin!  Ms. Right Now is on her Stop Cussin tour with a powerful message:  Every time you cuss, you’re disrespecting YOURSELF!  You’re showing your level of vocabulary!  Your words are part of your character!  Words can speak one into DEATH!  Think before you speak!  Respect each other, respect your elders and most of all, RESPECT YOURSELF!  Miss Right Now gave a very powerful presentation and the kids really absorbed it and took it home.

Terrie Williams, the highly sought after lecturer and public relations extraordinaire and Founder and President of The Stay Strong Foundation, a national non-profit organization designed to educate and encourage American youth gave an extraordinary presentation.  It was instant love between Terrie and the children at the December, 2006 Teen Awareness Day program. 

Ms. Williams’ openness and welcoming spirit was an immediate winner with the children. Rather than to do a conventional stand up lecture, talking to or at the kids, Ms. Williams chose to sit on the steps leading up to the P.S. 46 Auditorium stage, maintaining a comfortable eye-level while just chatting with the kids.  Williams’ interactive style and genuine love and appreciation for the kids turned into a mutual lovefest. 

Admittedly, for a moment, some of the children re-focused their attention in another direction and started talking over Terrie to a point that she had to interrupt her presentation.  But the manner in which Terrie restored the order was inspiring and a lesson that all parents should have the privilege to learn.  Rather than having a battle of the voices; yelling or calling for assistance in maintaining the order, Terrie involved the kids interactively by asking, “What would you do in my situation?”  Once the kids began to reverse the situation and put themselves in Terrie’s shoes, there was complete order. 

I say this with no exaggeration – the relationship between Williams and the kids was as sheep flocking to a shepherd.  I’m not sure the children grasped the value of the lessons they learned from Terrie Williams that day, but as they grow and develop, they will remember what Williams shared and her words will help mold them into successful men and women – people with strong values, self-love and much more.

In plain, but uncondescending language, Ms. Williams told the children about her new book, “Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting: Depression, Hope, and Healing in Black American Life,” which will be published by Scribner, coming out in 2007.  Williams’ book talks about African-Americans who suffer in silence from depression and discusses her own chronic and crippling depression which she revealed in the June 2005 issue of ESSENCE magazine.  Terrie Williams' stirring ESSENCE article entitled, Depression and the Superwoman, generated 7,000 letters which are still pouring in to date. 

The strength and courage Ms. Williams executed to get out there and take care of “her” children is the mark of a queen and a hero.  Ms. Williams persevered through her own affliction and has found more than enough power inside herself – despite her challenges -- to come out and meet the needs of children and youth who need us. 

The kids were intrigued as Williams told them the story of a young man she now mentors who came to her when he was in trouble with a well-known street gang he wanted to get out of. Ms. Williams looked beyond her own challenges and turned this young man’s life around and he is now living a productive life of hope.  

Williams had an interactive discussion with the kids about the “game face” and what it means to them.  It was a very stimulating experience for all who attended.  I expect Ms. Williams’ book, “Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting: Depression, Hope, and Healing in Black American Life,” will help a lot of people who suffer in silence from depression, and those who are unaware that they even have the condition – that can very well be the most dangerous form of depression, and can eat up your life.

I admit, I get a little ruffled and struggle to understand how someone with so much riches and good fortune can be depressed.  That is why I and anyone who has a similar thought process, should be first on line when “Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting: Depression, Hope, and Healing in Black American Life,” hits the shelves in 2007.

One of Terrie’s favorite phrases is, “There are no ‘other peoples’ children. Children – our children – are our future.” 

It was a wonderful day out for everyone who attended.  All of the presenters did a fabulous job.

Raising teenagers can most certainly be a challenge even with both parents in the home – especially with all of the negative elements attracting our youth.  Single moms have no choice but to be extraordinary people, who can withstand challenges that are unthinkable to people who have never had the experience.  But even with their heightened strengths that kick in to enable them to feed, nurture and protect their children, there is still a need for the positive male figure in order to create the balance that is needed in the development of children and youth.   Most single moms put on a façade reflecting “I can handle it,” but behind closed doors so many need the strength and help that can only come from a male figure.  When your 14 year old daughter comes home and introduces you to “Dirty Duke” the neighborhood drug dealer, what’s a mother to do?  Sure she can handle ol’ “Dirty”, but how do you handle the daughter whose hormones are racing and making all kinds of bad decisions, and in spite of all of your efforts, is out of control?  When you learn your son has joined a gang or has been arrested – what do you do?  The mission of The Fort Greene Volunteers is vital to the well-being and development of our community – our youth is our future.  “Most of the families here in Fort Greene are made up of single mother households.  We felt it was important that we stepped in to help out.,” stated Mark Knox, CFO of The Fort Greene Volunteers. 

James Lisbon, Publisher of AMAG and co-founder of Teen Awareness Day stated, “We are eternally grateful to celebrities Hill Harper who came out last month and Ms. Terrie Williams and all of the other personalities and supporters who came out for our youth.  It is our goal to make sure that our youth understand that they are important. We want our them to know that a person like Ms. Williams, who can easily command a minimum of $10,000 to speak, has donated her time – at no charge – for THEM. That says to them "she believes in me and I am important!"  or “he believes in me – I am important!

About Fort Greene Volunteers, Inc.
Fort Greene Volunteers, Inc. is a non-profit organization who operates a summer youth sports program for youths between 10 – 16 years of age.  They have successfully operated their tournaments for the past six years in the Walt Whitman Housing Development located in Fort Greene.  The program is divided into three divisions – 13 and under, 15 and under (boys) and girls Double Dutch, 16 and under.  The purpose for operating the tournaments is to provide youth with guidance and tutelage and development.  The program supports the objectives that promote community sports and education.  The Fort Greene Volunteers’ educational goal is to provide classes in social development, social skills and leadership.

About AMAG

AMAG/Awareness Magazine was founded in 2001 by James Lisbon to provide a balanced view of the African American and Hispanic community.  AMAG is committed to raising the entrepreneurial spirit in all, especially those who are apprehensive about their vision.  AMAG explores relevant issues, while educating and inspiring many to pursue and realize their dreams.  In June, 2005, James Lisbon launched the AMAG Intern Program to provide an instructive, fun and insightful environment for youth during the summer months.  The program has been met with great success and continues as a year-long program, enlisting primarily high school students with an interest in the many facets of publishing.  All interns learn fundamentals ranging from layout to final product.  Interns touch on reporting and interviewing, proofreading, conducting surveys, photography, flyer distribution, web searches, mass mailings, marketing and distribution, assisting at local festivals, youth and senior functions.  The AMAG Intern Program is primarily funded by Authors Helping Youth, whose book donations generate sales so the interns can earn a stipend.

December 2006 Teen Awareness Day was sponsored by the Nets, The Stay Strong Foundation, Congressman Edolphus Towns, Council Member Helen Sears, Assemblyman, Joseph R. Lentol, Black Enterprise, A&B Books Distribution, The Fort Greene Volunteers, Inc., Lefrak Community Youth & Adult Activities Association, BBK (BlackBrooklyn.net), Dina’s Books and AMAG, Inc.

Brenda Jeanne Wyche, Advocate for Solutions and Results is Managing Editor for The Black Star News and Harlem Business News and CEO of Winning Strategies & Associates, a small business development consultancy in New York City.  If you have a solution, contact
Brenda@blackstarnews.com .  Maybe we’ll talk.


To subscribe to or advertise in New York’s leading Pan African weekly investigative newspaper, please call (212) 481-7745 or send a note to Milton@blackstarnews.com
“Speaking Truth To Empower.”

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