My name is Zoe L., and I am a senior at Brentsville District High School. I have been a member of Y Street for two years and a member of the Y Street Leadership Team for the last year. I decided to join Y Street as a way to understand more about youth problematic topics in Virginia, such as childhood obesity and tobacco. Through Y Street, I have enhanced my leadership skills, and I have become a strong youth activist.
Recently, I attended Healthy Youth Day with a few members of my Y Street Leadership Team. At this event, we spoke about Y Street and our campaigns to key decision makers, such as delegates, senators, and legislative assistants at the General Assembly building in Richmond, VA. This was an opportunity for these decision makers and influential members of Virginia to understand why Y Street is such an important part of our lives and the impact each and every campaign has had on our lives and our peers. As I walked through the halls of the historic General Assembly building, passing offices of Virginia’s key decision makers, it made me realize that I am part of a change to come! I believe the work and influence that I have made in my community has allowed me to assess the problem areas. As a result, I am able to present this information to my peers, school board members, and legislators! At Healthy Youth Day, I attended five meetings with two other Y-Sters, in which we addressed different legislators with the same ideas and statistical evidence from our campaigns. While talking with these legislators, we relayed to them the problems we, as youth, see on a daily basis, while simultaneously presenting the solutions available through Y Street’s campaigns. I mainly discussed our 24/7 campaign, as I have made that my main focus this year to make my school division 100% tobacco free!
This event allowed me to reconnect with my fellow Y-Sters and collaborate with them about how they are influencing their schools with our most recent campaign, Great Starts with Breakfast. Not only was I able to reconnect with them, but we were able to share ideas and strategies as well. Additionally, I was able to experience my first ever visit to the Virginia General Assembly! It was really interesting to walk around a building that has had such an impact on Virginia’s history; just think about how many bills have passed through that building! It was an amazing experience and it reminded me that we as Y-Sters are the activists and leaders of tomorrow!