By Joel Hall
April 20 to April 26 is Georgia Cities Week, and once again, the City of Riverdale will commemorate the week with a celebration.
This year, however, rather than hosting a week of activities, the city will host a summit on Friday to help prepare Riverdale's youths for the future.
The "Learn and Serve" Youth Summit will take place at Riverdale City Hall on Friday from 8:30 a.m., to 1:30 p.m. High school students from the city will be invited to interact with executives from various service industries and have a chance to create a five-year plan to help carry them through college and beyond.
City Councilwoman Wanda Wallace is spearheading the event, which will feature guest commentary from officials with Southern Regional Medical Center (SRMC), the Federal Aviation Administration, Riverdale Assistant Police Chief Todd Spivey, Commissioner Virginia Gray of the Clayton County Board of Commissioners, and Riverdale Mayor Evelyn Wynn-Dixon.
Wallace said the event will help students connect with successful individuals and realize their options are not limited to sports.
"One reason I wanted to focus on this event was to get our students to focus on the professional field," said Wallace. "Sports are good for kids, but they need that cushion to fall back on ... having a degree in something else to fall back on is a good thing."
City Clerk Stephanie Thomas said in the wake of the Clayton County Public School accreditation battle, the city decided to focus its efforts on an educational activity. "Maybe next year, we will return to Riverdale Idol and Taste of Riverdale, but this year, we are going to concentrate on our children, because they need it right now," said Thomas.
"It's one thing to put on an event, but a child will leave here with a five-year plan. That way, later in life, if they have to deviate from that plan, they will at least have a foundation."
In addition to breakfast provided by SRMC, and lunch catered by Shane's Rib Shack of McDonough, the student with the best five-year plan will be invited to travel with City Councilman Kenny Ruffin to the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials (NBC-LEO) conference in Atlanta, July 23-27.
"We're bringing service industries in ... people who give back to the citizenry," said Thomas. "We hope that we can develop mentorships between the companies and the youth."