By Nicole Carillo, School-Based Health Alliance Youth Advisory Council Member on August 11, 2015
Teens are often told that they are the future, that they will be the ones that run the world one day. Very rarely are they told that the present is what matters. Everything is so focused on the future and planning, that time escapes us and then one day we realize that the future was yesterday and all that planning was for naught.
The 2015 Youth Program at the National School-Based Health Care Convention was designed specifically to prevent that from happening. Not only were the workshops and sessions designed to touch on topics that the youth could use right now in their schools, the youth were also given an opportunity to voice their opinion and be treated as equals. The message received by the youth was clear: “You are the RIGHT NOW. What you do now will shape the future, but focus on today. Know that you can change the lives of many today, and again tomorrow.”
I have been to many conferences in my high school career and I can say with all honesty that I have never been to a conference that affected my life as much as this one did. I had the opportunity to be both a presenter and attend workshops and that was amazing. I learned so much from the workshops, both during the Youth Program and in the general convention, and not once did I feel like I was being talked down to because of age or experience, but rather I was treated as an equal. In the same way, when I was a presenter, as I looked out to the people attending the workshop they were all interested in what I had to say, they wanted to hear my experiences and what I have learned. Again, I was treated as an equal and being a seventeen year old girl, I can say that doesn’t happen all the time!
I am so thankful for this experience. I met so many wonderful people and got to spend time in such an amazing place. I plan on applying what I learned in my own school and community as a whole. This experience was like no other and I thank everyone involved with this project for making it so special for me and my peers.