Save Our Youth Day 2020: Influential speakers & prizes coming March 28

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 7, 2020

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LAPLACE — Local educator Denarold Anderson firmly believes that young people exposed to positivity will go forward to lead positive lives. His nonprofit organization, Thoughts Before Actions, helps teenagers make better decisions by challenging them to never let emotions outweigh their intelligence.

Last year, Thoughts Before Actions delivered educational messages, entertainment and extravagant door prizes to approximately 300 local teenagers at the Inaugural Save Our Youth Day.

The second annual Save Our Youth Day takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 28, at New Wine Christian Fellowship, located at 1929 W. Airline Highway in LaPlace. Doors open at 9 a.m. for the free event, and pre-registration is available online at

While pre-registration is not required, those who pre-register online will be guaranteed a free Save Our Youth Day T-Shirt.

Anderson said this year’s breakout sessions cover important topics such as financial literacy, violence, sex education/sex trafficking, and mental health/suicide awareness.

While the event is geared toward ages 12 to 19, 10- and 11-year-olds are invited to attend with a parent present. Older kids can be dropped off, Anderson said.

A local student smiles after winning a TV at the Inaugural Save Our Youth Day.

“We’re allowing younger kids because we’ve been told the problems actually begin a little younger than that 12 to 19 age range,” he said.

Save Our Youth Day 2020 also features a positive performance by K. Levy, a St. James Parish native, in addition to free food, music, dance battles, games and student performances.

Door prizes include laptops, TVs, gift cards, iPads and AirPods.

“We still have the door prizes that many of the teens look forward to. The prizes we give are extravagant because we know that in order to keep someone’s attention, we have to give them something that they want,” Anderson said.

“Being around the kids these days, you realize that there are a lack of good things going on. There is a lack of opportunities for kids to get good information and have fun. Thoughts Before Actions wanted to give the kids a day where they could learn, get some entertainment and win some good things.”

There were some great breakout sessions last year, but Anderson is even more excited for what this year has in store. Guest speakers Lael Alexander and Syrita Steib-Martin are River Parishes natives who are making a phenomenal impact in their respective fields.

Steib-Martin, a Vacherie native, wants young people to know, “It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish.”

At the age of 19, Steib-Martin was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison on auto theft charges from a Texas dealership. She served nearly a decade in prison before being released at age 29. The world had changed vastly while she was locked away, and she discovered numerous roadblocks preventing formerly incarcerated people from starting fresh and building a meaningful life.

Her organization, Operation Restoration, helps women and girls across Louisiana break down barriers to successfully reintegrate into society after incarceration.

“There is a lack of access to basic rights in college admissions, housing discrimination and obtaining high school equivalency,” Steib-Martin said. “In 2017, we had to file legislation and get laws passed to stop denying formerly incarcerated people the right to an education.”

Operation Restoration runs 15 programs dealing with advocacy in legislation, case management services, providing clothing, Medicaid enrollment and a multitude of other services to help people land back on their feet. Steib-Martin is working with St. John Parish President Jaclyn Hotard to offer services to the River Parishes.

New Orleans rap artist DEE-1 invites students to participate in an interactive performance at the first Save Our Youth Day.

“Eighty percent of my staff is formerly incarcerated, and one thing that we all have in common is how it all started in our childhood, whether it was being abused or dealing with other things,” Steib-Martin said. “We all wish we had access to services or folks who could help us at that young age, so it’s always very important for me to talk to the youth because I see myself in them.”

Guest speaker Lael Alexander, a West St. John graduate, is the founder and CEO of Noitavonne, America’s first black-owned consumer electronic manufacturing company.

Alexander resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma and also works in China. He has been applauded by crowds outside of airports around the world, but none of that compares to how it feels returning home and hearing 20 people in St. John the Baptist Parish say they are proud of him.

In high school, most of the successful black role models Alexander saw were famous athletes or musicians, and it felt like that was all anyone aspired to be. He didn’t see a place for people like him, who excelled in liberal arts and computer science.

“I didn’t see the successful black man in computer science, so I decided to become one of the first,” Alexander said.

He’s the inventor of the IP Loop Connectivity Protocol, now known as “Mirror Cast” and used on screens across the world. The technology allows the user to project or “mirror” the content from a smartphone or tablet to another screen.

Alexander looks forward to inspiring young people at Save Our Youth Day and at West St. John’s graduation ceremony.
For more information on Save Our Youth Day, visit