Beaufort County Youth Conference
25 Years of Helping to Guide Beaufort Youths
The Beaufort County Youth Conference is set to
celebrate the quarter century mark in style
Story By David Pena Photos By Susan DeLoach
The annual Beaufort County Youth Conference (BCYC) will be held on Saturday, September 23 from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm at the Technical College of the Lowcountry in Beaufort. This year will mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the event, and organizers are expecting a great turnout. Carrie Major, co-chair of the Beaufort County Youth Conference Steering Committee, says, “We are expecting in excess of 250 students this year, and it truly promises to be a great success.”
The BCYC was organized in 1992 by Major with the purpose of educating local youths with some vitally needed information in order to help them make healthy life choices. The information gleaned from the conference aims at motivating all attendees to become more successful both in school and as adults. The BCYC is primarily geared toward middle and high school students, but interestingly Beaufort County students also help to plan the event as well, as co-chair Belle White explains. “From the very beginning until now, those of us spearheading the conference felt that youths would know more than anyone else about the problems facing them today. Every year we have always brought in youth from all over the county to discuss the societal ills that they routinely face. We would then take the students through a process of team building, which would serve as a starting point for the committee’s planning.” After the planning stage is complete, the Steering Committee then organizes the event and invites professionals from local community organizations that specialize in the areas to be discussed during the conference. However, the role of youths in the preliminary stage of the event is something that the Steering Committee does not take lightly. “We’re very proud of the fact that students have always been an integral part of the planning behind the BCYC,” White adds.
The theme for this year’s conference is “Lessons, not Losses,” and there will be three workshops which will center around this unifying idea. In the first workshop entitled “Love Yourself; You Do Matter,” the focus is to deter suicidal tendencies in youths and help them to avoid any other self-destructive choices or actions. The next workshop, entitled “Look for the Real Relationships,” aims at helping teens avoid pregnancies and staying clear of unhealthy relationships. In the final workshop, “Learn the Truth about Alcohol and Drugs,” the destructive and sometimes fatal repercussions of addictive substances will be discussed. Major says, “All workshops will be facilitated by professionals who specialize at working with youths in these (specific) areas.” The Keynote Address speakers for this year will be Dr. Will Simmons and Dr. Rod Singleton, both successful Beaufort County natives and graduates of Battery Creek High School.
Due to the generous donations from local churches, businesses and agencies as well as various members of the community, the Steering Committee will be able to offer this conference at no cost to middle and high school students in the county. However, they are still seeking donations to help offset the expenses. Co-chair Scott Gibbs adds, “We’d like to thank all the churches, agencies and individuals who have been instrumental in supporting us each year. We also have fraternities and sororities who have come on through the years to help financially, and without the generosity of these individuals and organizations, we wouldn’t be able to offer this conference for free to the students. When Carrie (Major) first brought this (conference) to mind, that was one of the key factors involved in its planning.”
Looking back on the history of the BCYC, members of the Steering Committee marvel at the tremendous impact that the conference has had on the community in the last quarter century. “We’ve been informing our youth and helping them make healthy choices in their lives for a while now,” reflects Gibbs. “In fact, some attendees have come back after they’ve graduated and gone on to become professionals to speak at the conference as productive members of the community. They come to let the youths know that they can become just as successful. That’s the great thing about us being in existence for twenty-five years. It’s pretty special.”
In addition to the workshops, students who attend the conference will be served lunch and be given T-shirts and backpacks. They will also have a chance to win door prizes. Registration for this year’s conference will start at 8:00 am on the day of the event in building 12 of the college, which is located at at 921 Ribault Road in Beaufort. Students may also pre-register by calling Carrie Major at (843) 812-4399 or Scott Gibbs at (843) 812-6111.