250 Teens Hear Advice on Setting Priorities at Youth Action Convention

March 18, 2011
PR Pro Terrie Williams Told Teens to Create Realistic Goals and Ask for Help

PLEASANTVILLE, NY – Set realistic goals, avoid striving to be “Superman” or “Superwoman,” and ask for help, PR pro Terrie Williams told approximately 250 teens who attended the recent Youth Action Convention at Pace University. Sponsored by Family Services of Westchester’s Youth Councils, The BRIDGE Foundation, Con Edison, The Elias Foundation, The Charles A. Frueauff Foundation, New York Life, the Westchester County Youth Bureau and PACE University, this year’s event focused on the theme, “Setting Your Priorities Straight. How Are You Going to Win if You’re Not Right Within?”

“This year, we wanted to challenge the youth of Westchester to get themselves together mentally and physically,” said Tianna Canady, Program Coordinator of the Westchester County Youth Councils. Terrie Williams’ keynote address entitled “Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself: Real Talk on How We’re Really Doing,” echoed the convention theme. Williams, the author of four books and the founder of the national youth advocacy group, The Stay Strong Foundation, told the teenagers about the challenges she faced when overcoming depression five years ago. She warned the young audience members not to hide behind a mask and let anger or hurt feelings fester. Williams encouraged the teens to find someone they could trust and open up about their emotions. In 1998, Williams founded the Terrie Williams Agency, which includes such clients at Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Janet Jackson, Russell Simmons, the NFL, the NBA, Revlon and Nickelodeon. Each convention attendee received a copy of her book “Stay Strong: Simple Life Lessons for Teens.”

The improvisational presentation by Big Apple Playback Theatre and teen-led workshops were among the other highlights of the convention. Seminar topics included “Teen Sexuality,” “Healthy Relationships,” “Self-Injury and Self-Harm,” “Health/Nutrition,” “Media Influence and Self-Image,” “Dangers of Alcohol Abuse/Underage Drinking,” and “Cyber Bullying.” “I think the heartfelt message from Terrie Williams, the informative workshops and the encouraging presentations by the improvisational theater group all had a positive impact on the teens in attendance,” noted Lynn Green, Vice President of Development for FSW. When attendees were asked how they felt at the end of the convention, they replied, “I feel less alone” and “I feel more connected,” Green noted.

Family Services of Westchester’s Youth Council was formed in 2000 to empower teens to become an active voice for their peers in the county, becoming advocates on such important topics as substance abuse, youth violence and anti-tobacco initiatives. Members of the Youth Council and the Junior Youth Council have traveled to White Plains and Albany to meet local and state legislators and speak out on gun control and cutbacks in funding for social service programs for teens. To learn more about joining or sponsoring the Youth Councils, contact Tianna Canady at (914) 872-5224 or Terrell Wheeler at (914) 872-5225.

Founded in 1954, Family Services of Westchester is a not-for-profit agency dedicated to strengthening and supporting families, children and individuals through all stages of the life cycle. With an annual budget of $20 million and 450 employees, FSW provides a broad range of social and mental health services to nearly 30,000 people each year. Its offerings include early childhood programs, adoption services, family and individual counseling, youth development initiatives, elder services, employee assistance workshops, and support programs for families living with HIV/AIDS.