I am always excited about Summer Institute – you know that second week in June when experts from all around the state and country come together to network, share knowledge, and hopefully grow professionally in the process. This year, as the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy celebrates 20 years as an agency, I am even more excited to be part of another great conference! Our theme – Saluting Success, Pushing for Progress – is a reminder that every year, we must push the envelope a bit more, strive a little harder, and keep pressing to gain and learn from past experiences. Last year, I was watching Black Girls Rock on BET – an awards show honoring young women and celebrities of color who epitomize strength, courage, perseverance, and hard work. As I watched and monitored social media (multitasking as always), I realized that so many of my friends and colleagues were inspired, mesmerized even, by the POSITIVE images of the women and young girls featured that night. For years, I have known that Black Girls Rock Foundation founder, Beverly Bond’s, work would be great inspiration for colleagues at the conference. But this year’s show and a subsequent interview on MSNBC featuring her confirmed for me the need to invite Ms. Bond to Summer Institute 2014. Beverly is a former DJ in New York City and now uses her experiences to mentor, educate, and fund raise on behalf of young women. Self-esteem, guidance, perseverance, and encouragement – these are few of the values her work tries to instill in young women, especially those who are often marginalized and ignored. All of us - individuals, communities, and the nation - benefit when young people (all young people) are confident and prepared to be productive participants in society. We look forward to having Ms. Bond rock with us in Charleston, helping us to push the envelope a bit more, strive a little harder, and keep pressing to gain and learn from past experiences. We all want what’s best for our youth but sometimes it takes a little inspiration to help us continue pushing for progress!
by Kim Wicker, Outreach and Development Specialist, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy