The 2023 Portage County Youth Empowerment Rally will take place from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 7 at Streetsboro High School at 8585 state Route 14.
The theme of the empowerment rally is “Your Safety is Important to Us.”
Renee Romine, president of the NAACP of Portage County, said the rally’s goal is to empower the county’s youth to start thinking critically about issues that concern them.
“When we talk about bullying, it’s been going on so long. We don’t have the answers, so we should be asking them, ‘What do you think we should be doing? How do you think we should change things?’ They’re dealing with these things,” she said.
Recognizing that youths may not know how to articulate their thoughts, Romine said they may have to be taught that as well.
“It’s OK to think about things that concern you,” she said.
Behind the youths’ courage to speak is their belief that the listeners will do something about the problems, not just pay lip service, Romine said.
The event will feature a silent walk to bring awareness to problems, including bullying and sextortion, that many youths face every day.
A bouncy house along with food trucks featuring everything from tacos and hot dogs to fries and ice cream will be on site.
The event will include educational breakout sessions, music from a radio DJ, a line dance instructor, and more.
Community organizations are encouraged to set up their own tables and distribute goodies to visitors.
“Even though this is hosted by the NAACP, I want this to be a Portage County event, and hopefully people will get the gist of that. We just want the youth to know that you have all these orgs that are behind you and are willing to support you,” Romine said.
Romine knows that youths aren’t fooled or placated by pretty words, no matter how well meaning.
“We gotta be about it, not just talking about it,” she said.
The day’s schedule is:
2:15-3 p.m. – Meet with facilitators from Kappa Alpha Psi, Children’s Advantage, University Hospitals, Townhall II, resource officers, Homeland Security, NAACP. Topics include bullying, sextortion, and internet safety for older teens.
Volunteers will be on hand from Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) of Portage County, Community Action Council, Kent United Church of Christ, Ohio State Highway Patrol, and Kent Police Department.
Streetsboro Fire Chief Robert Reinholz will also be present with information about the fire department and how to seek employment.
3-3:20 p.m. – Welcome Streetsboro City Schools Superintendent Mike Daulbaugh (meet in the high school gym, where the audience will be sorted into grade levels). Also meet with building Principal Brett McCann to discuss security and safety.
3:32-3:50 p.m. – Breakout sessions in five classrooms. Facilitators will be in classrooms. Homeland Security representative Jennifer Sherfield will address parents and adults in the auditorium.
3:50-3:55 p.m. – Dismissal by grade level, starting with the youngest students. 4-4:10 p.m. – Start silent march to raise awareness for bullying. 4:10-5:30 p.m. – Bouncy houses, line dancing, DJ and free food. 5:45 p.m. – Prepare for bus departure.
Sponsors and partners include the NAACP of Portage County, Streetsboro City Schools, Community Action Council of Portage County, Townhall II, Children’s Advantage, Children’s Advocacy Center, and Do It For James.
Call (330) 657-8564 for more information, or visit www.portagecountynaacp.org.