Focus on youth-related issues at Teenology 2006

More than 300 West Side teens attend day-long event

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By ROBERT FELTON

Under the guidance of the Westside Health Authority's Region 3 Youthnet, Teenology 2006, a day-long program for Chicago's West Side teens on youth-related topics, hosted more than 300 teens Friday Aug. 11 at the Westside Technical Institute, 2800 S. Western.

The event, running from 9 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon, began with a surprisingly frank discussion on physical appearance and education from Nathan Wright, advisor with Excel Etiquette Company.

Holding a microphone in front of a few hundred high school-age students dressed in mostly gym shoes, baseball caps and T-shirts, Wright, dressed in a neatly pressed black suit with shoes so shiny they reflected the lights from above, felt compelled to give his own recipe on dressing for success.

"Realize that it's not hard to sit in a chair and slouch, anyone can do that," he said, inspiring most to straighten up in their seats. "No one will pay you a $50,000 salary to slouch down in your chair...You must realize that how you present yourself is more important than what you know."

In its second year, the event included lunch for participants, informative workshops and motivational speeches for youth ages 13-19, who had to pre-register in advance. So popular was Friday's event that un-registered teens showed up, pushing the number of participants passed 300 before days end.

Organizers sorted out the new arrivals and allowed them to participate in some of the day's activities.

Another aspect of the event is the fact that Chicago teens were the main organizers, promoters, volunteers and workshop facilitators for Teenology 2006. The teens involved included members of WHA's community-based youth council.

The youth council and other Teenology organizers conducted surveys throughout their neighborhoods to get a feel of the most pressing issues teens are facing, and used the results to come up with workshop topics.

"Represent Yourself," dealt with employment. Mr. Sid (which he asked to be referred to as), an educational honors college advisor, spoke to youth about job readiness, preparation for employment and starting one's own business.

"One important aspect in becoming an expert in networking is to know that when you first meet someone, whether they are wearing an Armani suit or sweats and sneakers, you never know who anyone might be, so always treat everyone with the same level of importance," Mr. Sid said. "You must be willing to offer them something that they want. Many times contacts are more willing to remember you if you are willing to show initiative and provide a service that they need."

Among the non-profit organizations represented at the event was the Young Women's Action Team, whose members, Shaunice Armstead and Ronnett Lockett, organized two workshops for the event: 'He Said...She Said' and 'What's Love Got to do With it?'

"The former is a sit-down discussion where boys and girls discuss a variety of issues that they have with one another, and the latter is going to be a look at domestic violence in relationships," said 17-year-old Armstead, a Law major at Von Stueban High School. "We want the girls and guys to be able to express their feelings about anything, whether it's the negative image of women in videos or how they deal with teenage parenthood."

"In the 'What's love' workshop we have boys and girls act out situations that could occur in their own lives," said 17-year-old Lockett, a major in Medicine at Lane Tech High School. "The idea is for girls to see the signs of being in an abusive relationship and hopefully empower them to avoid them or get out of the abusive relationship they are currently in."

Other workshops included topics on racial diversity, teen stress and racial profiling. For more information about this year's Teenology 2006, call Region 3 YouthNet at 773/378-5034.

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