Wednesday, August 6, 2008

BDPA Conference: Kraft Foods Youth Technology Camp Luncheon

The 8th annual Youth Technology Camp (YTC) Luncheon sponsored by Kraft Foods was a resounding success. Capacity audience for the food, speeches and treasure hunt!

Mildred Allen, YTC Coordinator, gave tribute to John Harris for his personal support over the past 8 years to the Youth Technology Camp.

John Harris is Kraft's Global Information Systems manager. He noted that this is the 8th year in a row that Kraft Foods sponsored the opening day student luncheon. He is very proud of the association. It would be great for some of the YTC participants from the past 8 years to share some love for John in the COMMENTS section of this post.

Anyhow, John introduced the luncheon's keynote speaker, Markell Bridges. Markell is Kraft's IS Strategy Planning & Operations director. The brother noted that he graduated from high school 25 years ago ... and at the time of his graduation he had a small fraction of the information and tools available to students today.

Many of the people in the room cannot remember what is was like back in the day when we didn't have cellphones, IPods, MP3 players, Internet, personal computers, laptops and so forth

Markell remembers that his favorite television show back in the day was 'Get Smart'. He used to love the mobile phone in Maxwell Smart. That was the future. Fast forward to 2008 ... Over 40% of the world’s population carries a telephone. More than twice as many as own television. More than 3 times the number connected to the Internet.

He thinks it is important to continue to advance into the future with the abundance of information and technology available to youth today. He encouraged the young people to take advantage of the technology.

He focused on the power of mobile technology for personal shopping, geographic location, use to get real-time product reviews and such; scan barcodes using your mobile phone; use to enhance personal safety; convert text information into voice information for seniors or visually-impaired people. These are ideas about the future…

He hammered home the use of the mobile phone to solve issues at work on a local or global basis … or to keep in touch with photos and messages from family members.

What are tomorrow’s technology? What role will young people play in future of technology … you are creating your history, what do you want it to look like? Learn a foreign language was one of the tips he shared with the students.

Markel shared his personal bio. He grew up in single-family household on the south side of Chicago. He wanted to learn how to use technology. He made choices that allowed him to follow towards that future.

He closed out his remarks with six strategies the young people should consider as they move towards their future:

  1. Strive for success - You must not JUST PAST the test; ACE the test. Always do your best. Do not settle for being average. It requires study, reading and exercising your mind.

  2. Persistence: stay focused and never give up! Do not let laziness and procrastination. Do it now!

  3. Honesty – Do what is right for you and those around you. What makes you a good person…morals and character.

  4. Use Good Judgement – the choices you make today have influence on the rest of your lives. Surround yourself with others that have good judement. Who you associate with becomes who you are.

  5. Create Energy – have fire in your stomach, passion in your heart. Create energy with positive attitude.

  6. Do Not Let Anyone Deter You from Your Dreams: get link to the ‘A Friend’ poem about you cannot do it now…

The audience of students, coordinators and chaperones were very appreciative of the remarks from Markell.

Next to the podium with words of encouragement from National BDPA president Denise Holland. Denise demonstrated her skills with the French language while recognizing Kraft Foods for being a BDPA silver-level corporate sponsor.

The luncheon ended with a massive Kraft Foods treasure hunt. Literally hundreds of Kraft products were on display in the front of the room. An adult and student member from each BDPA chapter were invited to the front table. They were allowed go grab as much as they could hold and take it back to their tablemates. I was amazed at how many potato chips, nuts, crackers, fruit juice pouches and other Kraft products could be carried by these happy BDPAers!

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