July 30, 2008

Teen Summit Here Friday: Actor Bill Cobb Guest Speaker

By Kimberly Bellamy, The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, N.C.

Jul. 30--The Down East Performing Arts of Rocky Mount will sponsor the first annual Teen Summit with actor Bill Cobb as a special guest speaker.

The event will be held in the Keihin Auditorium of Edgecombe Community College (ECC) from 8 to 3 p.m. Friday.

ECC was chosen as the site because it provides a neutral location for everyone from rural areas.

The event will give youth the opportunity to learn about the performing arts from a source that is directly involved in the entertainment industry.

Cobb had roles in movies such as "Night at the Museum," and "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer." He has also starred in television shows such as the "West Wing" and "The Drew Carey Show" among other TV shows.

The second guest speaker will be Dr. Janice W. Petersen, executive director for the government office of preventive substance abuse policy.

Cobb will focus on performing arts; Petersen will address substance abuse.

These are two topics among many that will be coved in the break-out sessions for the youth, ages 11 and up.

The middle school and high school age kids were targeted because of the decrease in parent involvement at those ages.

"You don't see as much parent participation," said founder of Down East Performing Arts, Doris Marshburn.

The information provided at the event fills the void of information the youth may not be getting from parents and enables them to make good decisions.

Other issues that will be covered are gang awareness, teen pregnancy, teen obesity, key-coping skills, parent involvement in child safety, teen driving safety and anger management.

The Rocky Mount Health Department, the Teen Pregnancy Center, the YMCA, Edgecombe County Sheriff's Department and Tarboro Police Department are some of the groups that will be facilitating the sessions.

"The sheriff's department and police department have really rallied to come on board with the teen summit," Marshburn said.

The break out sessions will last for about 25-30 minutes to provide them with "food for thought on how to handle situations," Marshburn said.

Each session will aim to leave the youth with knowledge to take back to the community and their schools to help with prevention.

Other than the youth hearing about these topics in the break-out sessions, they will also be apart of an audience for a youth talk show.

The talk show is called East Coast Talk Show, which is sponsored by Down East Performing Arts.

Some kids will get to act as the host and camera person for the talk show while the reminder of the attendants will be the audience members.

The talent for the talk show will come from youth that participate in organizations such as YMCA and Upward Bound.

The talk show corresponds with the theme of the event, which is the "media makes a difference."

The media aspect of the event will highlight the destructive issues facing youth while allowing the kids to use their creativity.

"All of us have a talent, it's just trying to find it," Marshburn said.

Down East Performing Arts was established in 1994 on the principles of giving youth the ability to expose and develop their talents.

"I've worked in public and private schools and seen all the talent that is out there and wanted to give them the opportunity to perform on television and see where they can go from there," Marshburn said.

The organization is lacking a sufficient amount of equipment to provide the opportunity to get behind the camera or be in front of the camera to more than just a few children at a time.

Marshburn said the equipment available is limited to her personal camera and they are seeking a studio.

People interested in helping children are welcomed to help out in a specific way.

"I really need help pulling together an advisory committee for the monthly observance for the young people," Marshburn said.

The monthly observance recognizes an national issue affecting youth and gives them information on preventing these situations.

Help is welcomed for the Teen Summit on Friday, as well.

Despite the voids the program has, Down East Performing Arts has put on productions at the Dunn Center in Rocky Mount featuring Missula Children's Theatre form Montanna and a children's theatre from Durham.

Anyone interested in volunteering to help or donating to the organization can contact Marshburn at 314-9064.


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