By BOB COUPLAND
WARREN - Local youth learned that they can make a difference and achieve their goals and dreams by seeing the accomplishments obtained by two world-renowned leaders.
The Trumbull County NAACP Youth Chapter held a recent tribute event, ''Fathers of Freedom, the Future Belongs to You" at the Alliance Community Outreach Center honoring Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday is celebrated Monday, and Nelson Mandela, who died last month.
Annette McCoy, president of the local NAACP, said the event focused on King's and Mandela's contributions but also on how today's youth can focus on achieving their goals.
She said the local NAACP youth programs offer scholarships to area juniors and seniors preparing for their futures.
"Our goal is to work with the students to obtain scholarships and funding so they can attend colleges. This will help open a lot of gates for all of you,'' she said.
The Rev. William Pinn, youth chair and vice president of the NAACP, said individuals such as King and Mandela show young people that they can make a difference by accomplishing much in their lives despite obstacles.
Local youth sang and danced at the event.
Jeffrey Butts, co-founder and instructor of Chess for Life, said chess programs in local schools such as Willard and Jefferson after-school programs, and also in Youngstown schools starting Jan. 27, help sharpen the minds of its players.
"Chess teaches about consequences and responsibilities and critical thinking. We need that in our kids," he said.
Free lessons are offered 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays at the Eastwood Mall food court; in downtown Warren from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturdays at the Lime Tree; or in downtown Warren outside on the sidewalks with a life-size chess board with people as the chess pieces during the summer.
McCoy said when the chess program was brought to a local church event, the children were very involved in playing the game.
"The children were so focused on learning about chess," she said.