LITTLE ROCK, Ark – An opportunity for encouraging youth this weekend as the 501 Youth Summit will take place Saturday at Little Rock’s Statehouse Convention Center, beginning at 10:30 a.m.

The June 11 event is built around the theme “Taking Back What Belongs to Me,” centered on the idea of participants to “aggressively take control of their destiny and work towards their goals and dreams.”

Sessions taking place will focus on empowerment by addressing mental health, physical health, drugs, police interaction, spirituality, bullying, self-esteem entrepreneurship and the legal system.

Organizer Jessica Green said the event is organized to allow an “open conversation” between attendees and panelists to encourage growth, with panelists being accessible to the youth throughout the event.  

It will include panelists with the message, in effect, “It’s okay if I made bad decisions in the past, but look at me now,” Green said.

The event kicks off with a panel discussion of Officer Tommy Norman, Judge Tjuana Byrd Manning, City Director Ken Richardson, Towanna Garnett, Charlie B. Garrison, Tommy Sproles III, Lady Teressa Devine-Whitmore, Ciceley “CeCe” McDowell, Shayla Hooks, Timothy Coleman and Minister Louis Anderson.

Green, a Central High grad, said the event has been promoted to students there. Additional attendees are expected from a Little Rock youth home, she said.

The event will end with a 7 p.m. spiritual impartation session which will include prayer, as well as encouragement with area ordained ministers in the room to pray with as well as talk with and encourage youth there.

Green plans for this to be an annual event.

The event is free and open to the public, although donations will be accepted.