by Samantha Sanders
Giving back to the community is always important and impacting the lives on inner city youth is just as important, if not more. This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 3rd Annual Athletic, Arts, and Entertainment Symposium (AAE) hosted by the CETA Foundation which discussed health and wellness threats in Atlanta as well as finding your passion and purpose in life.
Stevie Baggs Jr., former NFL/CFL athlete turned actor, author, president of the CETA Foundation, and City of Atlanta Health and Wellness Ambassador teamed up with the City of Atlanta’s Healthier You initiative to gave back to the Atlanta community by targeting the cycle of poor lifestyle choices that threatens the health and wellness of low-income communities. The symposium featured classes and workshops for children and parents which focused on determining your success, domestic violence, non-violence, economic empowerment, (Brand Bank/Credit Union of Atlanta), health & wellness, self-esteem, personal hygiene, obstacle courses, and much more.
Celebrity and athletic mentors included: Rhavynn Drummer (freelance casting director for Tyler Perry Studios), Gregory Toler (Indiana Colts Cornerback), Jock McKissic, Alpha Tyler (casting director, Being Mary Jane), Claudia Jordan, and more. I was able to speak with four of the mentors, including Stevie Baggs Jr., and their hopes for the symposium as well as the impact they were looking to have on these children was inspiring.
Stevie says that the AAE Symposium was cultivated from a football camp and life skills clinic. This year was the first year that they incorporated the arts and entertainment portion to the symposium in order to reach out to a diverse group of children. They also wanted to pinpoint life skills and relay messages that will make them well-rounded individuals. “We give these children positive realities in life and help them understand that being an athlete or entertainer is great but have diversity in your approach”, he says. “We then give them those life skills that they need to move forward.”
In addition to discussing life skills, the symposium discussed domestic violence and non-violence, issues that are plaguing our youth and self-esteem and personal hygiene. Stevie says, “We want them to understand what they’re worth”. The financial/economic challenges, which was targeted for the parents, was also big for them. “It was a huge piece. It is really key to helping folks do what they want to do, to be successful, and to not be dis-ease. So that word dis-ease is spread apart but put together it spells “disease” and what a lot of people don’t know is that those emotional, those financial, those physical dis-eases is what causes stress and diseases in the body, so what we’re doing is just hitting home on principles so that they cannot be in diseases. Our health & wellness platform is why we do this ultimately.”
In attendance as a mentor was Cornerback for the Indiana Colts, Gregory Toler, Jock McKissic, and Rhavynn Drummer. “What I like about this event is the gap that Stevie is closing to our youth. Since I’ve known Stevie he’s been hands on, on and off the field, whether it’s throwing camps or throwing clinics he’s one of the few guys in the NFL that has the symposium aspect of it and is teaching about life skills and purpose”, says Toler. Rhavynn Drummer says, “It’s been great hearing from the kids and even the people on panel, I feel like I’m learning new things about what they’ve went through and struggles they’ve had, how they’ve overcame them and how kids are being benefitted by seeing professionals in front of them.”
“I’m loving this event. Anytime you get to be around the kids and motivate them, encourage them, especially in the way that we’re doing it by being mentors and trying to help them in ways that people today don’t help them as much as they could is great; so when they come to events like this they’re taking a lot from successful people”, said Jock McKissic, current actor and former football player.
Stevie’s advice on trying to find your purpose in life is a simple acronym for the word Passion:
N-never give up
It is always a joy to uplift kids, encourage them to chase dreams, fulfill goals, but most importantly to have them understand that their purpose in life can be much greater than they could ever imagine. That’s what the AAE Symposium was all about. Thank you to Stevie Baggs Jr., the CETA Foundation, and the City of Atlanta for inviting me to the event and providing a platform to create change in our community!
Check out Stevie Baggs Jr. new book, Greater Than the Game, is available for purchase now on Amazon.com and LifeSciencePublishers.com.
Follow me on Instagram @samanthasanders08