My name is Morgan and I am junior Colgan High School. I have been involved with Y street for two years and I joined the Y Street Leadership Team last spring. My involvement in Y Street has been one of the most fascinating and motivating experiences of my high school career. As I re-live the moments I have shared with my fellow YSLT members at Y Street events held throughout Virginia, many friendly memories flood into my brain. Through this program, I have not only created life-long friendships, but I have also gained invaluable leadership skills through meetings with key-decision makers. Recently, I was invited to speak at the 2017 Weight of the State Conference.

The conference featured Virginia’s most experienced professionals involved in combatting childhood hunger and obesity. With such amazing organizations in attendance, like No Kid Hungry and the American Heart Association, I was confused as to why myself, a 16-year-old, was invited to such a professional conference when I did not have nearly as much experience and insight as the adult presenters. After listening to the presentation given by Rescue Executive Director,  Jeffery Jordan, and Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth Director of Marketing, Danny Saggese, I realized that myself, along with my Y Street members, serve an important role in the process of ending childhood hunger, obesity, and smoking. Since we are teenagers, we can provide invaluable feedback to the adults that strive to help youth become healthier as they transition into adults. Danny and Jeff’s presentation was eye-opening and laid down a wonderful foundation for the rest of the day.

Though I enjoyed all the presentations given, my favorite session was most likely second session I attended, School Wellness: Moving From Talk to Action. This session was the most enlightening because Kristina Shelton (Action for Healthy Kids) lead fascinating group discussions and activities that encouraged personal insight as well as collaboration. As soon as I walked through the door I was amazed by her energetic presentation style. Every person in the small room was told to stand up and participate in some sort of physical activity (keep in mind the room contained only adults other than myself) so this was a bold way to begin a session. Kristina also brought lively conversation into her information section of the presentation and the most unusual instructions Kristina gave were to go around the room and write solutions to scenarios listed on the papers on the wall, I found this odd because most of these teachers do not usually participate in such activities like this since they are normally the ones who arrange the activity for the students. Though I enjoyed Kristina’s surprising presentation methods, the session was my favorite because I could provide different solutions to the scenarios then the methods suggested by the school teachers and administration. Being the youngest conference attendee was somewhat frightening, yet the information I obtained was invaluable to my education as a student and I am glad I was given this wonderful opportunity by Y Street.

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