07 25 2014
  10:05 pm  
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Anael and Cordeta of USA La Familia perform during the 2009 Youth Summit, Julie Keefe photo

The 7th Annual Portland Youth Summit, coming up Saturday, Feb. 9, at Portland State University Smith Memorial Union, brings a focus on physical and mental wellness with the theme, "Be Healthy or Die Trying."

The not-to-be-missed youth talent show Saturday at 6:30 p.m. is hosted by Vursatyl, an MC from the Portland hip hop group Lifesavas. 

Last year the event tackled schools and personal knowledge with the theme, "The Mis-Education of Our Youth;" hundreds of young people attended.

This year, the free-of-charge event is continuing to grow its outreach to parents as well as teenagers and young adults.

"For me, when I read the statistics on obesity and mental health – there are so many areas to go into there," said youth summit founder Imani Muhammad. "These shootings that have taken place like in Newtown – mental health is a big contributor.

"Also because of the economics people are losing their minds – not just the adults, it impacts the parents' behavior with their kids," she said.

Muhammad's group, Youth Organized and United to Help, stresses that racial disparities can lead to obesity, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, and communitywide problems in education and health.

"It just seems like physical health, mental health, spiritual needs – the more we give people the tools to cope with what's around them as an individual, the better off they are," Muhammad says.

"At the core of all of this, whether you have a job or not, is how do you remain healthy as an individual?"

One eagerly-anticipated workshop, Soulfly Groovement, features a workout CD produced by rapper and activist stic.man from the political hip-hop duo Dead Prez. Lead by wellness expert Erica Brannon, the workshop includes meditation, holistic health, and natural body movements. 

Other workshops address mental health, societal stereotypes and resources for families. A pizza feast and networking will be held at the end of the workshops.

Muhammad, a past winner of The Skanner News Drum Major for Justice Award, organized the first youth summit in 2007 after the fatal shooting of 14-year-old DaVonte Lightfoot, a Benson High School student and one of Muhammad's former students at Victory Middle School in North Portland.

Past keynote speakers have included Professor Griff of Public Enemy, Jasiri X, and the late Rob Ingram, director of the Portland Office of Youth Violence Prevention, and also a past winner of The Skanner News Drum Major for Justice Award.

The event is Saturday, Feb. 9 in the PSU Smith Memorial Union third floor, 1825 SW Broadway. Registration starts at 11 a.m., with the youth talent show begins at 6:30 p.m. Register in advance at www.portlandyouthSummit.org.

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