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Youth Non-Profit Focuses on Parenting Skills, Teen Behavior in Panel Discussion

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Newly minted non-profit Tuo-Be Youth Development Foundation held a panel discussion March 17 to discuss adolescent behavior. Throughout the meeting, panelists and the audience discussed how parenting can affect the behaviors of teens.

As the founder and executive director of the organization, Apria Brown hosted the event and discussed the rise of her non-profit. This was the first meeting the organization has held, with a small crowd of roughly 20 people.

Danielle Ognelodh, a police officer with Atlanta Police Department, said she has seen the effects of ineffective parenting on teens, ranging from arrests to death.

Ognelodh  has arrested a child that was only nine years old for breaking into somebody’s house. “I’ve seen dead teenagers,” she said. “I’ve seen dead kids. I’ve seen them be at the wrong place at the wrong time.” Ognelodh said sometimes one bad decision can lead to a child’s death.

In one incident, Ognelodh said a mom called the police on her daughter for being violent and not wanting to go to school. Ognelodh arrived to the scene, she said the mom was only concerned about getting in trouble with the truancy officer and the only reason the girl did not want to go was because she did not have any feminine napkins.

Panelists for Tuo-Be Youth Development Foundation’s discussion. From left to right: Apria Brown, Alena Conley, Thomas Powell, and Danielle Ognelodh.

Incidents like this are all too familiar for Thomas Powell, the director of community relations at Tuo-Be Youth Development Foundation, who said he came from a broken family.

“I was gangbanging when I was 13,” Powell said, adding he was going down the wrong path when he was an adolescent, which is his motivation to help other kids like him.

Powell touched on the topic of how parents from a broken home raise kids that also become parents of a broken home, essentially creating a cycle. “We don’t do enough as a community for each other.”

Powell posed the question, “Who is teaching the parents to be better parents?” To the audience and one person, P.J. Lemuel, also one of the speakers rose her hand. “She raised her hand but one out of billions of people in this country is not enough,” Powell said.

Alena Conley, an investment banker and life coach, talked about being misguided in a different way. Conley said going to a great college and getting a great job does not always make a person happy. “I got to my dream career and six years later I was still miserable because there was more out there for me.”

As an investment banker, Conley said she still felt like she was “converting to someone else’s standards.” She wants to teach adolescents through this program how to be appealing but still be themselves. “You’re either just taught academics or you’re taught just basic skills.”

While the conversation largely focused on teens not receiving parental support, there was discussion dedicated to tools that can better serve parents in raising teens. P.J. Lemuel is a parenting mentor who teaches parenting classes. She helps parents see what they are doing wrong and what they can improve on.

“[The] first life skill teacher is the parent,” she said. “If the parent does not know, then the child will not know.”

Brown said the dialogue was the first of many, which could separate Tuo-Be Youth Development Foundation from other non-profits. “We’re also looking to kind of start having events that engage the mainstream with the need to help make our kids’ [lives] better.”

The organization’s next event will be April 7 at the Northwest Library at Scotts Crossing.

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