A year after it launched a conference for young black males, The Park Ministries of Charlotte is doing it again — this time with a teen summit designed for both genders.

The ELEVATE summit is scheduled for Saturday, March 21, at University Park Baptist Church on Beatties Ford Road.

Youth Minister Jacotron Potts said the day-long summit will offer gender-specific sessions focused on learning, living and leading. He compared growing up with riding an elevator.

“For young people to go to the next level in their lives, they’ve got to learn the right buttons to push,” he said. “They can’t get to the next level pushing the same buttons. We want to give them an opportunity to see the other options, the other buttons they can push.”

The ELEVATE summit grew out of last year’s all-male conference sponsored by the Young Black Male Leadership Council. That event, part of Crossroads Charlotte, drew close to 200 teens, some from as far away as Gaston and Greensboro.

“As a church, we felt it important to be able to provide an opportunity to empower our young girls, and we didn’t do that last year,” Potts said. “So we wanted to make sure we included that this year.”

Teen Health Connection, a Charlotte nonprofit, will conduct a session for girls on health issues. A separate session for boys will be led by Reggie Singleton, director of The Male’s Place, a program run by the Mecklenburg County Health Department.

The health session will deal with diet, exercise and other health issues. Another gender-specific sessions will stress the importance of education and life-long learning. A third will focus on helping teens develop their leadership skills.

“The premise is that those three areas — leadership, learning and living — if dealt with appropriately, would set a young person up to have the kind of quality of life we believe God has called them to have,” Potts said.

The parents session is meant to reinforce the information provided in the teens sessions. “It does us very little good to talk about the things that we think are important to young men and women as they grow and not have a conversation with their parents,” said Potts.

The church has set a limit of 300 students, 100 parents and 50 volunteers.

Teens and parents hoping to attend must pre-register at the church or online. The deadline is March 14.

To help defray costs, The Park Ministries is accepting cash or in-kind donations, Potts said. The summit also needs small items to give away as prizes or to go into gift bags.

What: ELEVATE Teen Summit 2009
When: Saturday, March 21
Time: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Where: University Park Baptist Church, 6029 Beatties Ford Road, Charlotte
Cost: Free if pre-registered (No on-site registration)
Registration: www.upbc.org or visit the church

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