urban_league_of_broward_logo.jpgFORT LAUDERDALE — The transition from youth to adulthood is often a time of despair as youngsters and their parents alike face issues such as unwanted pregnancy, college planning, choosing career paths and finding purpose in life.

Those were among the topics tackled when the Urban League of Broward County’s Young Professionals Network (YPN) convened its annual youth summit. The aim was to help students become leaders in their schools and communities and help parents deal with issues facing their children.

The theme was “My Life, My Dream, My Destiny.”

“This year’s theme lets them know that this is your life, your dream. It has nothing to do with us. Mom can navigate and do whatever she thinks she needs to do but, at the end of the day, you really can’t put the blame on anyone else,” Nicole Allen, vice-president of YPN’s programs, said in an interview.

Rather than sleeping late, about 300 middle and high school students and parents turned out for the program on Saturday at the Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship at Nova Southeastern University in Davie.

The students included Ciara Clarke, 17, a senior enrolled in the Environmental Science and Everglades Restoration Magnet Program at South Plantation High School. She opted for the “Who Am I?” session.

“It was very thought-provoking,” Ciara said. “Some of the questions made me think about myself and ask myself what I want to do, what I want to be, what is my purpose. The Urban League is a wonderful organization and I am glad to be a part of programs like this.”

Besides the “Who Am I?” session, mentors presented information during several other sessions, such as College Planning, Pregnancy Prevention, HIV/AIDS Education, Entrepreneurship, Managing Finances, Tools for Success in Life, Proper Etiquette, and Obesity.

Drawing on his life experiences, one speaker, who identified himself only as “Bro. Lyle,” engaged parents in a spirited discussion that he said fulfilled his aim of reaching youths, parents and youth organizations to get them to think on a higher level when it comes to raising children and developing them towards greatness.

“The topic I was given was college planning but, put in the frame that it is, [it’s] actually life planning,” he said in an interview. “Many times we start looking at schools before we look at the young person but we need to take a closer look at him or her so that we can guide them into institutions that are right for them.  So, now, the young person is put back into the center of focus, rather than the college or institution.”

The Urban League’s YPN encourages young professionals to take an active role in serving and empowering their communities and provides a training ground for these young leaders.

In addition to being a bridge that connects its members and students through mentoring, the YPN also promotes the Urban League’s programs, such as its annual youth conference.

“This may sound cliché-ish, but children are our future leaders," said Allen. “That’s the next [President Barack] Obama, the next Mozart. Unfortunately, we’ve moved away from ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ and this is how we get back to raising children as a community.”