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Summit encourages teens to make positive choices in their lives

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Bermuda will be hosting its second annual Choices event next week at the Berkeley Institute. Organised by Ryan Simpson, director for youth ministry for the Bermuda Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, the event is an eight-night intensive community programme designed to target young people on a fourfold base of faith, fun, food and fellowship to encourage teens to make positive choices in their lives.

“Choices was born, it started as a church initiative,” Mr Simpson explained, following the wave of violence that hit the Island in the spring of 2010.

“We were talking to our young people and they were very perturbed with what was happening.”

The Devonshire SDA church then hosted a summit on community violence, which featured a variety of panellists, including Commissioner of Police Michael DeSilva, then Deputy Premier Paula Cox, Rise Above Bermuda’s co-founder Dr Lou Matthews, Honorary Jamaican Consul for Bermuda Winston Laylor, PLP MP Ashfield DeVent, former Bermuda Reserve Police Commandant Eugene Vickers, president of the Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Dr Jeffrey Brown, and the then head boy and head girl of the Bermuda Institute.

One of the major outcomes of the summit was the urgent need for more positive community outreach programmes and activities that would offer positive alternatives to young people, especially young men. “Our young people wanted to make a difference in the community,” explained Mr Simpson, and thus, Choices was born.

The event runs nightly, from August 13-20, and will feature guest speaker Juan Quiroga-Tellez, a Cuban-American pastor based in California. Born in Cuba and having pastored for more than ten years, Pastor Quiroga-Tellez “has a lot of personal stories” to share with those who will attend.

The theme for this year’s event is TURN Bermuda 180°, with TURN standing for Train, Uplift, Restore and Nurture. Each evening, a different sub-theme will be looked at, including Choices and Consequences; Revenge and Retaliation; Peer Pressure, Sex and Gangs; Anger, Emotional Pain and Forgiveness; Materialism and Hiding Behind a Mask; Respect, Insecurities and Self-Esteem; and Love and Commitment.

Last year’s event, which ran under the theme of Many Roads, One Choice, saw about 180 young people attend and featured youth ministry expert, Steve Case, of Involve Youth, as the guest speaker.

Each evening will begin at 4pm and young people will be allowed two hours to hang out and have fun as the gymnasium at Berkeley will be transformed into a massive game arcade with a wide range of activities, from table tennis and pool, to Wii and X-Box video games. Attendees will also be served food.

Then, from 6pm to 9pm, the night takes on a more formal feeling with dramas and music, and featuring a message by the Pastor Quiroga-Tellez on the evenings subject. The teens will then break up into small groups, divided by age, to give them the opportunity to open up, talk and even vent.

Everyone will then come back together again to participate in some large group games, to teach team building. The evenings are then concluded with a debriefing time.

Thanks to the sponsorship from a wide variety of sources, including KFC, the MarketPlace and Barritt’s, among others, the event is largely free to those wishing to attend, although there is a $20 administrative fee. Each participant will also receive a Choices T-shirt, a colour-coded wrist band that entitles them to food and materials, and which also assigns them to one of the four main teams for group games, and a name tag, which also tells them who their team leader and which small group they’ve been assigned to.

Pre-registration is essential, although, as Mr Simpson points out, no teen will be turned away, as long as there is still room, and there is hopes for up to 300 young people to attend this years events.

To register, visit the SDA Youth website,, and click on Choices

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Published August 06, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated August 06, 2011 at 9:02 am)

Summit encourages teens to make positive choices in their lives

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