Love and #respect: Local #students discuss #teen issues during #workshop

Respecting yourself and others while being aware of dangers in the community was the main focus of a recent workshop in Georgetown for area youth.

Optimism Mentoring and Preventive Services Inc. of Georgetown hosted a workshop at the Quality Inn Feb. 10 for more than 140 middle and high school students from Georgetown, Horry and Williamsburg counties. The workshop, held each year on the Saturday before Valentine’s Day, is part of the organization’s Students Against Violence Everywhere program, known as SAVE.

“The importance of today’s workshop is to prevent dating violence and violence period,” said Denise Chatman, Optimism’s founder and director. “Even if we are just able to reach 10 people out of this 100-plus it is worth all of our hard work, and hopefully those 10 will tell 10 others and we can get the message spread.”

The all-day workshop included discussions about topics including goal setting, career paths, personal branding, teen dating violence, social media, bullying and more. The main event was a presentation by a motivational speaker and poet named LIFE. One of his messages was the importance of using the word “strive” instead of “try” because strive is a call for action.

Denise Chatman said the event is mostly about love and respect. She praised the presenters and the many students who participated.

“It is about respect and knowing that abuse is not love,” Denise Chatman said. “February is known as the month of love and our hope is that if someone is in an abusive relationship, something they heard today may prevent or stop that, and it may give them the courage to say this is not OK.”

Presenters and students involved with the workshop said it was a very valuable experience. Georgetown High School graduate Zenica Chatman works as a communications consultant for Duke Energy. She spoke with high school students during the event about personal branding.

“We’ve been walking the young people through the importance of having their very own personal brand and how they are able to control images and messages they put out into the atmosphere about themselves,” Zenica Chatman said.

Salaysia Nesmith, an 11th-grade student at Andrews High, said she learned to brand herself using her personality and telling people what makes her different from other people.

“One thing that makes me unique from everyone else is that I try hard to achieve the goals I set for myself,” she said.

Shamar Davis, a recent graduate of Andrews High, agreed.

“I’m different from everyone else because of the things I do, as in my dress, the way I act and my hair,” he said.

Zaria Baker, an 11th grade student at Georgetown High School, said she learned that you should make sure your brand is positive.

“You don’t want to do anything that ruins your brand, so make yourself seam more presentable, respectful, for your brand to be out there,” she said. “So do stuff that is good in your community, good to other people, so you can have a good brand and other people know your brand is good.”

Baker said she also learned a lot about how to deal with teen dating violence. She said you should always tell someone when you have concerns about a relationship.

“There are plenty of bad relationships out there I know,” she said. “But they don’t speak up about it, they wait till later on because they are scared and they don’t know what other people are going to say about them.”

Middle school students discussed setting goals to achieve their dreams. Jermiah Grimmage, a sixth-grader at Carvers Bay Middle School, said he created some personal goals for himself.

“I wasn’t on the honor roll this nine weeks, but I plan to be on the next one and go to my next grade, which is seventh grade,” he said. “Longterm, I want to be a defense lawyer, so I’ll have to go to law school for four years.”

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