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Statewide youth talent competition set for Sunday

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Charleston-based youth development organization is "calling all talent" Sunday for its first statewide middle- and high-school talent show.

Innovative Events Consultation, a group dedicated to creating activities that enhance culture, character and achievement, will host its first "West V's Got Talent Back to School Talent Show" Sunday at the West Virginia State University Capitol Theatre in Charleston.

According to Obi Henderson, event promoter and EIC president, the talent show is meant to support scholastic achievement and foster student success.

"The purpose of this event is to show people outside of West Virginia that Charleston is a great place to live," Henderson said. "We look at this city as a diamond in the rough, and our children are our shining jewels."

This is the first year IEC has hosted the talent show, and Henderson said more than 30 students from around the region have registered. A Chicago native and graduate of Alabama A&M University, Henderson said he has researched after-school program participation rates in the state and found of 74,526 middle and high school students in West Virginia, more than 59,000 do not participate in any after-school activities. That's something he believes must change.

"There are analyses that say that kids who participate in after-school programs behave better, receive better grades and perform better on tests, so we want to encourage those activities, Henderson said. "We want to encourage young people to go to after-school programs and we want to encourage activities that help them succeed."

According to Henderson, each participant will be given three minutes to perform a talent of his or her choice, and registrants' talents range from slam poetry to dance to magic tricks. The first-prize award is $250, and second- and third-place will receive scholarships in honor of the late Curtis Price, a former director of the Charleston Job Corps and a West Virginia basketball legend who died in May.

Ron Duerring, superintendent of Kanawha County Schools, sent a letter of support to Henderson and IEC earlier this year, writing, "[Your] mission to improve our community through cultural, character and intellect-building activities are in alignment with our mission at Kanawha County Schools."

Mark Davis, fine arts curriculum specialist for Kanawha County Schools, said initiatives like West V's Got Talent help encourage students to achieve by giving them an outlet for interests they're able to cultivate in school.

"As a kid, music-based classes and performance-based classes are the reason I went to school; they were the reason I wanted to go to school every day," Davis said. "All students are different, and they don't all respond to the same things, so I think allowing kids to demonstrate their talent with something like this is motivation for them to attend school, and that's a big part of it."

IEC offers other community-based programs to promote youth development, including mentor programs like Hope 4 Innovative Minds at Chandler Academy Alternative Middle School, as well as community workshops on topics ranging from building résumés to financial management. Henderson said Sunday's event would also include the unveiling of a new mentoring program -- Diligently Reiterating Excellence through Academics, Mentoring and Scholastics, or DREAMS.

"We don't know what types of jobs these kids are going to be doing, be we know they're going to have to be creative," Davis said. "Creativity has been a major thread throughout history for successful people, and these events foster creativity and allow kids an outlet for that."

The talent show will begin at 7 p.m. Sunday at the WVSU Capitol Theatre located at 123 Summers St., in downtown Charleston. Tickets are $5 for youths and $10 for adults. For more information on opportunities offered through IEC, visit www.iecevents.com.

Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nuzum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.


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