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Identity Strong Conference: Event Recap

ArtSoul Radio recently attended the Identity Strong Conference with one of our partnering ministries: New Life Covenant Church on the South Side of Chicago. It was an amazing weekend full of developing young people and providing them with a space to have fun just before the start of the school year. We love being apart of these type of events where we get to get a closer one on one connection with youth in our city. When people wonder about what Chicago communities are doing to pour into their youth, we can guarantee that they do a lot year round. This conference focused on reminding youth of who they are, their worth, and flooding them with fresh wisdom for living for the new year.  Keep reading for my take aways from this event in the recap below:

By Ashley White:

I remember what it was like being a teenager in high school. If I wasn’t concerned about wearing the latest fashions, then I was most likely trying to work up the courage to talk to the guy I had a crush on. Add peer pressure and maintaining good grades to that and I can confidently tell you that high school was not that great of an experience for me.

Sometimes we forget the pressure teenagers face and it’s significantly different from what previous generations went through. The Identity STRONG Conference at New Life Covenant Southeast was a great way to wrap up the summer vacation and gear up for the school year ahead.

The focus for the conference came from Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

The workshop sessions included Strong Together, Strong Education, Strong Mind, Strong Guy and Strong Lady. Art Soul Radio was on the scene and here are key takeaways from the conference…

Strong Together

This workshop facilitated by Minister Shammarie and Imani Brown kicked off with a fun exercise showing the importance of equal effort going into a relationship. That principle not only applies to dating relationships, it’s the same for friendships, colleagues, or any other relationships you’re in. Also, you want a good friend, you have to be a good friend. 

Strong Education

Taught by Educator Jacqueline Horbrook, this workshop spoke to the importance of staying focused on your purpose. It’s so easy to get distracted, but you have to be intentional about everything you do before there are consequences to your actions, whether they’re good or bad.

Strong Mind

So many teens are dealing with mental issues including depression, suicidal thoughts, eating disorders, etc. and it’s an issue that can’t be swept under the rug. Author Richard Taylor shared his testimony of overcoming depression and addressed the various ways teens can deal with negative thoughts that consume their minds. A lot of us, especially in the African American community, grew up with the mentality, “What happens in this house, stays in this house,” which can no longer be our mantra. There’s nothing wrong with reaching out to someone you trust or seeking professional help.

Strong Lady

Maritza Eru wasted no time tackling the hard issues such as life after a traumatic experience. Oftentimes traumatic situations come with shame and that can lead to destructive behavior. Maritza advised the young women to not stay in a victim mindset after a traumatic situation happens because it will keep you from being victorious. Maritza also encouraged the ladies to know their worth. That’s key because when you know your worth, you know when to leave relationships, friendships or situations that do not serve you.

Strong Guy

Vondale Singleton, Founder of Champs Male Mentoring, had an empowering message for young men in this workshop. At the beginning, the men read a powerful statement declaring, “I am greatness in the making.” Vondale let them know that every life experience enhances their greatness. “You have been called to greatness for the simple fact that God created you.

Yes, you’re going to be challenged but God’s DNA is on the inside of you. You’ve been knocked down but you haven’t been knocked out,” said Vondale.

In addition to these informative and insightful workshops, there were two breakout sessions—Strong Dance by Dedrick Banks and Strong Words by Chachetta Potts.

The conference closed out with spoken word by Matthew Strange and a hilarious yet encouraging keynote message by Joey Quinones, Pastor of New Life Covenant Northside Campus. Kierra Sheard hit the stage performing our favorites and she left the teens with this reassuring message:

“Go for your dreams. It doesn’t matter what someone else has fed you with their opinion or their idea of life, just keep going forward and find God for yourself and you’ll see that a lot of things are different.

Be careful who you have conversations with—remember Eve had the wrong conversation. So be very mindful of who you surround yourself with. Also the word of God says iron sharpens iron so it’s very important that you are particular. They can call you sadiddy, stuck up or whatever. Be selective with who’s in your circle.

Not only that, remember what Jesus did when Peter got out of whack or out of line. We call it vibe now but Jesus did not identify Peter by his name but by the spirit that was using him. So make sure you aware of the vibes around you. Jesus said get thee behind me Satan for you are a stumbling block to me, so have that same authority and audacity as well to correct whatever’s wrong but at the same time be ok with being held accountable.

Fight Depression – Don’t Believe It

To defeat depression, it all comes down to who you surround yourself with, your circle, your village. Remember, God loves us through people. He give you that one on one relationship but God loves us through people. So make sure you have people who will push you back into your destiny, to encourage you and to pour into you. Also be careful too because it might be somebody who might be hating on you and they may be intimidated by where you’re going.

Also, don’t be afraid to talk to someone. Don’t hold it in. You don’t have to be Superman or Superwoman. You can talk to someone and it doesn’t make you weak, it actually makes you stronger. If you’re depressed, get out of the past and live in the moment and if you’re anxious, get out of the future. Let God be there. He got it. And don’t let your past hold you hostage. Be encouraged!”


  1. If you need help for depression, anxiety or thought of suicide, we have included a couple resources for you to find help below:

  1. Follow ArtSoulRadio social media for more poetry clips, music and encouraging content, event news and other informative content: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

  2. Follow New Life Covenant Church: Facebook | Instagram (Teen Page) | Instagram (Main Church Page) | Twitter | YouTube

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