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Youth summit drawing in teens here this weekend

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Making decisions about using alcohol and drugs. Dealing with violence among peers. Deciding whether or not to have sex even though it can kill you.

Making a good name for teens in your community.

More than 40 youths from across the region will be getting together with local teens to discuss topics just like these when the United Native Friendship Centre’s Multicultural Youth Council holds the Northwestern Ontario Youth Summit here this weekend.

“It’s going well,” MYC president Erin McMahon said of their preparations.

But a lot of work still needs to be done. Organizers have to prepare to feed breakfast, lunch, and supper to their guests for three days, as well as make sure everything is in place for the six scheduled workshops and a dance Saturday night.

The summit is slated to being around 5 p.m. Friday with a supper, followed by introductions and an opening ceremony, featuring elders Helen Hunter and Gilbert Smith, traditional aboriginal drumming, and the “Lil’ Eagles” dancers.

Then the local rock band “Whitefire Reed” will play from 9 p.m. to midnight.

The conference really takes off Saturday when youths will be treated to several workshops, including:

•an HIV/AIDS workshop with health educator Angela Petsnick;

•a teen role modelling workshop by the UNFC’s Brad Herbert;

•a presentation on teen violence by family court worker Connie Peterson;

•a fetal alcohol syndrome seminar by Aboriginal Family Support worker Tracy Blasky;

•a youth fundraising workshop headed by UNFC executive director Sheila McMahon%u ( ÐedCI0vhtI5a session dealing with teens and alcohol headed by Brad Kirkrude Sr.

McMahon felt the AIDS workshop may be the most important one at the summit.

“I went to the three-day [‘Walk My Red Road II’] conference last week and it was excellent,” she remarked. “Seeing how well that went, I think this will be well-received, too.”

Community health nurse Ann Sinclair also will be doing blood pressure and sugar level checks Saturday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

A part of the summit where youth will put their speaking skills to the test will follow Saturday’s supper when a spokesperson from each youth group attending will spend 15 minutes talking about issues prevalent in their respective communities.

“It will be a great group activity--a real good chance to communicate and learn where others are coming from,” noted McMahon, who will be speaking for the MYC here.

A community teen dance at the Fort Frances Legion will round out the day’s activities.

The youths will head home Sunday after a breakfast and closing remarks.

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