Youth Summit encourages decrease in dropouts, increase in studying

Students -- some dressed in suits and ties -- attended ASU's Center for the African-American Male (CAAM) held their fourth annual Winter Youth Summit

Albany State University's Center for the African-American Male (CAAM) is hoping to decrease the school dropout rate by encouraging young students to increase involvement with their studies.

Peer pressure becomes strong in middle school, which is why CAAM is "planting seeds at an early age to inspire them to realize their full potential," says CAAM Interim Director Antonio Leroy.

"We see a need to seed into the lives of young boys at an early age so they can have a strong identity of who they are," he says.

The Youth Summit is not only helping students learn how to transition to middle school which can be tough socially with peer pressure and bullies, but how to succeed even further than middle school.

"We can speak to the sixth graders as they make the transition from elementary school to middle school, that they have a strong identity of who they are, what their goals should be and making college their highest priority in the sixth grade," says Leroy.

This includes making good health choices and lifestyle changes.

Dr. Vicki Phillips, Director of Student Health Services at ASU, says she wanted to talk to students about health issues affecting all people across the nation and not just African-Americans like high blood pressure, diabetes and STDs.

"This is the population where they develop those bad habits. We want to talk to them now to deter those bad habits and convert those bad habits they may already have now into good habits," says Phillips.

Speakers also discussed studying, saying students are expected to study but some may not know how.

"If they have good study habits in elementary school and middle school when they come to college it'll just be a transition but they'll still be able to be good students and make good grades," says ASU Retention Coordinator Monica Whitely.

Leroy Davis, a Hall of Fame athlete and former basketball player, says while studying and doing homework, it's important to make mistakes.

"You need mistakes in order to learn," Davis says. "If you practice, you'll have great results."

CAAM provides educational and motivational activities for students. This includes a mentoring program for African-American males in Dougherty County and Terrell County.

The group is holding their Fourth Annual National Male Conference on April 16.