South Carolina Teens Attend HYPE Project’s Youth Summit at SC State University

Close to 160 teenagers and adults from across South Carolina attended the 5th Annual Youth Summit on July 15 at SC State University to learn about youth-led policy changes and how to advocate effectively. Hosted by the Healthy Young People Empowerment (HYPE) Project and Eat Smart Move More South Carolina, the Summit featured Chris Suggs, a nationally-known social justice activist and founder of Kinston Teens in Kinston, North Carolina.

Suggs, a rising freshman at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, shared his experiences as a leader on the local, state, and national levels, as well as his work with the non-profit he started, Kinston Teens.

“Leadership builds one’s confidence and self-esteem, leaving you with a feeling of knowing that you can change the world,” said Suggs. “Leadership also builds your network and net worth —exposing you to opportunities to meet new people and to earn money to make a living.”

Suggs stressed the importance of building a strong support system by surrounding yourself with positive people; making good choices that define your future; and being determined to meet your goals no matter the obstacles you face.

HYPE Project teams from Orangeburg, Anderson, Barnwell, Berkeley, Hampton, Florence, Kershaw, Laurens, and York counties presented videos on their successes in establishing policy and environmental changes in their communities. Youth worked with local leaders to implement the following changes:

  • Healthy food choices at ball park concessions stands (Barnwell and Kershaw counties)
  • Park cleanup, safety improvements, and signage (Anderson, Florence and Orangeburg counties)
  • Faith-based community garden to feed the community members (Berkeley County)
  • Installing crosswalk signs and caution lights near schools (Laurens County)
  • Installing way-finding signs on trails (Hampton County)

This year’s Youth Summit also featured breakout sessions with one special treat for boys. Award-winning speaker and National Manager at, Patrick Patterson, spoke to boys about the importance of establishing strong relationships, keeping a positive circle of friends, and defining success – it’s not about money. He concluded his session with a How to Tie a Tie instruction. For this portion, ESMMSC held a necktie drive and collected over 900 neckties from individuals across the Midlands.

The youth had six other breakout session choices on avoiding risky behaviors, public speaking, how to advocate, how government works, perception of self, and how to make healthy eating and active living policies work in school through the NFL Fuel Up to Play 60.

Other special guests included: WACH FOX 57’s “Trendy” Fraendy Clervaud, Richland County Sherriff’s Deputy Curtis Wilson, and DJ Jeremiah. The Youth Summit was made possible by the Southeastern United Dairy Industry Association, BlueCross BlueShield of SC Medicaid and several other supporters.

Winning HYPE Team Videos
All HYPE teams were encouraged to submit a video summarizing their project for a friendly video competition.

First Place: Barwell County

Second Place: Kershaw County

Third Place: Orangeburg County