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Summit out to make teens productive members of society

Summit out to make teens productive members of society

By Treshea N. Wade
Sunday, Feb. 25, 2001

Breaking a promise made to a teenager can result in the loss of trust. Lose a teenager’s trust and the results can be devastating to society.

A conference is in the works that is designed to ensure organizations help people keep their promises to youths.

Robert Morris College in Moon Township is holding its first Allegheny County Promise Summit March 9 and 10. The summit was created for school leaders of organizations on how they can better provide area youths with much needed services.

Daniel Horgan, a junior corporate communications major from Bethel Park, is the coordinator of the summit.

The recently appointed United States Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell named the college as one of the institutions in America’s Promise in 1997.

America’s Promise is a non-profit, national youth alliance created to connect youths with the support necessary to make the ‘five promises’ a daily reality in their lives.

Horgan explained that the five fundamental promises or commandments the alliance wants to ensure youths are provided with are:

-ongoing relationships with caring adults in their lives, including parents, mentors, tutors or coaches.

-safe places with structured activities during non-school hours.

-marketable skills through effective education.

-opportunities to give back through community service.

Horgan expects about 250 youths to attend the first day of the summit, which will feature Robert Pruitt II, a national motivational speaker from Maryland.

‘The first day the youth are going to have the opportunity to state their concerns, what they’re willing to give to the community, what do they see that’s missing,’ said Horgan.

Then, over 300 non-profit, business, civic and community leaders are expected to participate on the summit’s second day, which will feature Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy. In the workshop sessions, Horgan said discussions will mostly focus on the concerns expressed by the youths on the previous day.

Horgan, who is also the president of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, said the summit has already drawn the attention of various business, non-profit and education leaders from Allegheny, Washington and Beaver counties.

‘There will be so many opportunities to network to learn about different trends that occurring within youth services,’ Horgan said.

A buzz word Horgan said he is hearing among the different service providers looking for help is ‘collaboration.’

‘More than anything, people are interested in trying to eliminate a lot of duplication of services and how to collaborate and coordinate programs with one another. We want to make sure we establish those networks – that’s what we are all about,’ Horgan said.

Even while attending Bethel Park High School, Horgan was involved in coordinating volunteer programs for students. Now in college, he is the community service student coordinator for R-Move.

Horgan admitted he doesn’t know everything about service organizations. He credits the seven-member America’s Promise Advisory Board for helping him plan the summit. The board includes representatives from the University of Pittsburgh, Communities In Schools, Family Health Council and Highmark, he said.

‘We were trying to get connections from all over the region and have these representatives bring that different perspective to the table,’ Horgan said.

John Michalenko, dean of students at Robert Morris, said the things being taught at the summit just reinforce the college’s main mission.

‘Robert Morris College prides itself in preparing people the workforce. Part of that professional development preparation for their career is to build the civic and ethical responsibilities they have as professionals in giving back to society. That in itself is woven into the fabric of curriculum here,’ Michalenko said.

Mark Weinstein, director of public relations for the college, said he is excited about what Horgan has done with America’s Promise.

‘This program really is so much the model that we embrace here at Robert Morris – . This will make a big impact with youths and businesses in our region.’

Horgan said he hopes the Promise Summit doesn’t just become an event that motivates people to become involved in service.

‘That’s not what we’re trying to aim for,’ Horgan said. ‘I hope it’s just the beginning. We want to start establishing new relationships and really enhance them in the future.’

Horgan said through the America’s Promise he ultimately wants to break the county down to ‘regional perspectives.’

‘We want to have a real good idea in terms of what services are provided in the north, south, east and west regions. Maybe one region really exceeds in one of the five promises, but needs a little support in another. If we find that out, we can really start pulling from each other,’ Horgan said.

‘This is just the beginning – it’s not the end by any means,’ Horgan said.

There is no charge to attend the summit, but anyone interested must register. For more information about the summit, call (412) 262-8352 or visit the Robert Morris College web site at www.robert-morris.edu .

Treshea N. Wade can be reached at twade@tribweb.com or (412) 306-4531.