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WILMINGTON– Coast 97.3 radio personality Sandra McClammy is like many in the black community who are tired of the negative images of young black men.

"The young black male has statistics that are stacked up against them," she said. "There's not a lot of positive things being said about young black males."

To fight back she started Teen Summit in 2005. It's an annual event held at New Hanover High School, where teens express how they feel and find solutions to their problems.

"Some of them have family situations going on, sometimes things affect the behavior that they are having," McClammy said.

Antonio Boyd, 18, is a product of Teen Summit.

"For young black men, most of their friends go down the wrong path sometimes," Boyd said. "The ones that are trying to go down the right path need a voice and an organization where they can talk about the troubles that they are having at home and sometimes even for school."

Desmond Goss, 18, agrees.

"It's just easier to voice how I feel about certain things now," Goss said.

Boyd and Goss are youth leaders for Teen Summit. McClammy says she's worked with them since the 9th grade.

"They were two young men that I was able to see beyond them," she said. "I could see things in them that they couldn't see."

The two young men are also members of Teen enterprises, a group that focuses on education and civic responsibility. Teen Enterprises founder Randolph Keaton believes says they rose above typical sterotypes.

"The young men and women that are in the program, I must say that I am very proud of," Keaton said. "They could be doing something else very negative."

Earlier in the week we met with three New Hanover High School seniors. Darryl Pulliam, Montrel Jones and Michael Ballard wanted to give a message to younger black men hoping to follow in their footsteps.

"I would tell them that their GPA is key," Ballard said. "A lot of freshman don't realize that what they're doing in class, just getting by–that isn't enough, and it will hurt you in the long run."

If faced with peer pressure Jones said, "Just look for somebody positive. Don't look toward the negative. Just because it looks fun at the time, worse case if someone gets shot, you're all going down for that charge. Where will you be? You'll be in jail, and you'll wish you weren't there, so just find someone that you can be positive with."

Ballard gives this message of hope for the future.

"Just thinking about where do I want to be 10 years from now, and you'll hear people say that you have so much potential and you just think and let it dwell on you," he said. "Just think 10 years from now what do I want to do? That put me to the challenge to make myself the best that I can be."

Some young black men say peer pressure, social issues and negative stereotypes are challenges that they face. Community organizations are helping kids rise above those circumstances to be successful, but in the end it all boils down to making the right choices.


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