Limited to the first 300 high school students, the free summit will be held this Saturday, Nov. 11 from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Heritage High School, where Gardner's oldest son, Kendahl, is a sophomore.
A meet and greet session for keynote speaker and NCAA Champion Gary McLain will be held tonight at 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble in the Slatten Ranch Shopping Center.
"This summit will feature morning workshops with influential community leaders, a catered lunch and a keynote speaker with Gary McLain," said Williams, a public relations marketing consultant for V. Sheree Communications.
"The time to make a difference in the lives of the youth is now," she added. "It's designed to inspire, motivate and propel students to make positive choices in all areas of their life. With guidance and support, we believe that we can start to make a difference in their lives and communicate the message that there is a leader inside each and every one of them."
The morning session provides a variety of workshops, followed after lunch by McLain's stories of trials and victories. His problem with substance abuse before and after college was detailed in an 1987 Sports Illustrated article "One Bad Trip" just two years after his NCAA MVP championship in the legendary game between Georgetown and Villanova University. His full testimony can be found at www.garymclain.com.
"Today he is clean and sober and spreading his message of hope and encouragement to youth," said Williams.
The summit will wrap up with an open mike talent show, Express Yourself, hosted by Teri Shaw, in which students can showcase their talents through song, poetry, dance and more.
A former teacher at Sutter Elementary in Antioch, Gardner is a community relations manager for Barnes & Noble at the Slatten Ranch Shopping Center. Her goal for the summit is to give students a place where they can open up.
"At school, students have to be quiet, and many of them don't have extracurricular activities after school because they are costly," said Gardner. "Our goal is to bring an awareness of what our kids are facing on a daily basis, and give them a place to come out and express themselves in a safe environment."
Other summit speakers include Keith and Iris Archuletta from Emerald Consulting; Pastor Dion Evans from Chosen Vessels Christian Church in Alameda; Lawrence Rasheed, a teacher at Deer Valley High School and founder of Reaching African American Potential; and Pearl Vargas from the Tutoring Club.
Williams and Gardner want teens to walk away knowing that they are leaders and there is nothing they can't do.