Youth in Action to hold conference aimed at teens and violence

The Hear Our Teens Youth Conference, hosted by Youth in Action and the first of its kind created by youths for youths, is scheduled to run through Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

Mary-Pat Hector, the 13-year-old founder and president of Youth in Action, said that hopefully the conference will cause teens to realize the negative impact violent entertainment has on their lives.

“It’s important that youth know that they do not have to wait to be great, they can be great now,” Hector said. “They don’t have to sit at home wasting time. They can start now making a difference.”

Helping to kick off the conference will be a candlelight vigil in memory of Bobby Tillman, a Douglasville teenager who was stomped to death at a party on Nov. 7, and other youths killed by youths. Four suspects have been charged in Tillman's death.

Tillman'smother, Monique Rivard, is expected to speak at the vigil, which will begin at 6 p.m. Friday at the Metroplex on Metropolitan Parkway in Atlanta.

Speakers at the conference include 14-year-old Morehouse College student Steven Stafford of Atlanta; Derrick Boazman of WAOK radio in Atlanta; and Ebony Brown, president of the Stone Mountain chapter of Youth in Action, a 2-year-old nonprofit started by youths for youths.

In addition to workshops, the organization will hold a youth service project cleaning a half-mile stretch from the Metroplex to Atlanta Metropolitan College.

The conference will end Monday with the youths participating in the King Center march on Martin Luther King Day.

Hector said she expects about 300 youths from metro Atlanta to attend the conference, which is free and open to the public.

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