Al Lewis teaches youth about drumming and ancient traditions so that they might understand themselves by knowing their history. This session was one of many during the city of Selma Annual Youth Conference. --Ashley Johnson
Al Lewis teaches youth about drumming and ancient traditions so that they might understand themselves by knowing their history. This session was one of many during the city of Selma Annual Youth Conference. -- Ashley Johnson

Youth learn about heritage at annual conference

Published 8:14pm Friday, July 26, 2013

The city of Selma Annual Youth Conference came to a close Friday as the youth gathered around and learned the art and history of playing the drums. After the presentation, the 25 kids shot their hands up, ready to ask lots of questions — something they were encouraged to do throughout the week at the conference.

Ward 4 Selma City Councilwoman Angela Benjamin said she held the 4th annual conference this year because young people are important to us and represent our leadership for tomorrow.

“So we must take care of the youth today,” Benjamin said, who chairs the family committee for the city and is an advocate for youth activities and enrichment in Selma. The conference is held downtown, so the students walk from session to session to different buildings — living out the “Let’s Move” campaign that Michelle Obama began.

The conference started Wednesday when the group went out of town to Columbiana where they participated in archery, building games, swimming, canoeing and outdoor recreation. The event officially kicked off in Selma Thursday with a Turning The Tide On Youth Violence town hall meeting led by the students in the conference.

Michael Jackson, who volunteered with the students for the week from Montgomery, recalled moments in watching the children learn new ideas that tugged at his heartstrings.

“Basically, it has exposed the kids with lots of ways to deal with life’s problems. It also taught them ways to live healthy, ways to live outside of the box,” Jackson said, and explained they taught the students how to think about the next move ahead in life by playing chess. “After the chess workshop there were at least several youth that checked out chess boards, so they could take them home and practice and get better. “

Jackson said seeing the youth take interest in things like chess really made it feel like the annual conference was instilling something deep inside the youth — that hope is ahead.

“We are planting a seed for the future and showing them there is hope — that things can get better,” Jackson said.

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