Hundreds of teens attend Save our Sons Summit

Ribault High event helps young men make better decisions

Published On: May 18 2013 01:20:38 PM EDT   Updated On: May 18 2013 07:44:03 PM EDT

There was no game but the gym at Ribault High was filled for another reason; The Save our Son's Summit, a community and faith-based event aimed at reminding young men of the consequences of good and bad decisions.

"It gets you ready prepared for everyday life," says Jaquon Baker who attended the event. "It teaches you how not to be in the system how to become a young successful black man and its really going to be useful for the future."

Through speakers and skits organizers tried to show positive alternatives to drugs, gangs and violence to the nearly 1,000 young men here.

"Seeing other black males out here learning about what's right and what's wrong that's going to push me forward to lead other people," Andre Doyle Jr. says.

It's a turnout John Guns never imagined when he started planning this event, frustrated with the violence in his neighborhood.

"By the end of this day they're going to all walk away from this better," Mr. Guns says. "Because they're all in an environment where people really care about them."

But this just wasn't for the students but also for their parents. Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown talked to those parents about their role in changing their children's lives in a special session, as did Duval County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Nikolai Vitti.

"I'm going to make sure they know that there are no excuses," Mayor Brown says. "I was raised by my mother and grandmother they worked two jobs raised five kids so we have to make sure that were all working together."

"We all have to work together to make sure that the children not only are given the highest level of expectation instruction ally," Dr. Vitti says. "But socially and emotionally they're supported as well."

Supported, and encouraged, to take the lessons learned here far beyond these walls.

"What I'm really going to take away from this is how not to be," Baker says. "How to conduct myself as a young man and grow up and really make something out of myself."