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Powell's wife advises: Have faith in future

With the United States on the verge of war with Iraq, here's what Alma Powell, wife of Secretary of State Colin Powell, would advise America's youth.

"Have hope and faith in the future," she said, adding that young people should rely on the adults in their lives.

"Don't discount their lessons," she said. "Have self-discipline; know what you can do and what you can't."

Her remarks came after she addressed more than 600 people at the 2003 Women of Distinction luncheon Tuesday in Tampa, where local women were honored by the Girl Scouts of the Suncoast Council for their community contributions.

Mrs. Powell knows what it's like to be a Girl Scout. Her mother started Girl Scouts for African-American girls in Alabama when scout troops were still segregated in the 1940s.

"As a Brownie, I remember the songs, the games, the snacks," she told the crowd.

A children's book author, she said being a Girl Scout helped her be strong and prepared.

"Sometimes I think, if worse comes to worst, I'm ready for survival training," she said.

Mrs. Powell, named one of 10 national women of distinction by Girl Scouts of the USA last year, said adults have a responsibility to guide young women to opportunities that build strength.

She paid tribute to the four Tampa area women who were honored Tuesday for contributions to the community: Francis Stavros, P. Buckley Moss, Holly Duncan, Lee Bird Leavengood.

After her speech, Mrs. Powell said that if a girl came to her expressing fear about the world, she would choose reassuring words.

"I would tell her it's good to be frightened," she said. "It's a frightening time. But you have to have faith in our leaders. It is their job to take care of you.

"But I would also tell her, "You have to be able to take care of yourself, too.' " Making a plan with your family about how you can be safe will give you confidence, she said.

Then, you can "stop being frightened."