NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — We’ve got two opportunities for you to help our teens reach their dreams.

But first, a little background on the “need.”

I met several teenagers at Norfolk’s Kroc Center recently, just to talk.

“In the next 5 to 10 years, I want to go into the Air Force…,” says one 17-year-old girl.

“The Marine Corps,” said another. And a third: “I was hoping to join the Coast Guard.”

Dreams of public service for these three young ladies. Dreams, they hope, won’t be derailed by nightmares.

“People just get shot, and don’t even have to do nothing,” said Shanique Mabine, of Norfolk.

“Does that scare you,” I asked. “Yes!” she said.

I asked have you witnessed any crime, have any of your friends been hurt?

“My cousin,” she responded. “He got murdered!”

Former teacher and mental health professional Gertrude Meeks says she’s heard many similar stories from teens. “Our youth need every bit of help they can possibly get.”

Meeks plans to join other adults and teens this Saturday at the annual Youth Leadership Conference, sponsored by Hampton Roads Children of the Sun.

Air Force veteran and entrepreneur Corbin Brown plans to talk with teens about why he enlisted in the military.

“I was in the Air Force four years. I did security forces. It wasn’t my favorite job but I took advantage of the opportunities, and used (the benefits) for it for schooling.”

Feona Huff says she’ll bring her teenaged children and looks forward to hearing from others.

“I hope that the youth will tell us what they need.”

“We want to come out with a plan, from the youth, to take to the city, of how our youth can get involved,” says conference organizer, Abdul Aswad.

The Hampton Roads Children of the Sun Youth Leadership Conference runs from 11 to 3 on Saturday at the Kroc Center in Norfolk. For more information, you can call Mr. Aswad at 757-855-5358.

Now, if you want to get out earlier, get some exercise, and support the biggest familuy services agency in the area, get ready to lace up your sneakers.

The annual “Step Up for the UP Center” stair climbing competition kicks off at 9 a.m., Saturday, at Harbor Park, on the Norfolk waterfront.

“Participants will be climbing on the lower deck at 3rd base of Harbor Park,” says Katie McCarthy, marketing director at the UP Center.

“This is the UP Center’s largest fundraiser every year and it supports our programs like Team UP mentoring. We have over a hundred children on the wait-list hoping for a caring adult mentor.” Funds from Step UP will also support programs like foster parenting, family mental health and financial counseling.

You can register for the Step UP stair climb on site at Harbor Park and online here. Get there early, the stepping begins at 9.

The Youth Leadership Conference at thje Kroc Center begins at 11. Call Abdul Aswad for more information: 757-855-5358.