The Road to Empowerment

Hey!  My name is Yvonne, and I am a rising senior at Granby High School.  I have been a part of Y Street for two years and the Y Street Leadership Team for a year!  During the months of January and February, I had a fantastic opportunity to be a part of the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth’s Empower Series. It was a four-part series that involved my fellow YSLT leaders, Cheyenne and Sydney. 

“Passing the Mic to the Next Generation” was the first webinar that we participated in that was held in January. All three of us were asked questions about how our individual lives changed in 2020 due to the pandemic and how it affected our communities.  We were also asked questions on how adults should engage young people such as, “Why is it important for adults to listen to youth before they make decisions on our behalf?” and “What strategies can adults use to work together with youth to make a better future?”  This webinar gave us the chance to speak to adults and change their perspectives on youth involvement. 

The other three webinars were hosted by each of us individually on a specific topic, and mine was called “Effectively Communicating in a New Virtual World.”  This was the perfect webinar for me to host!  The aim of the webinar was to inspire and provide the audience with specific examples of how they can connect with more young people in their community in an engaging way within virtual spaces.  2020 was the year of significant adjustments, and communication was greatly affected.  For years, we have engaged in human interaction and in a blink of an eye, we were isolated.  The pandemic caused all communities to quickly shift to a virtual space with schools, events, and activities.

During the webinar, I interviewed Laura Furr from Laura Furr Consulting, Regen Johnson, Alternatives Inc., and Kareeshama Ali from Greater Good Studios who shared their experiences on youth advocacy.  The audience received guidance, advice, and examples of ways to connect to youth and engage them in new virtual activities.

The best part about this whole opportunity was that I was a voice for the youth community.  My voice was heard by adults not only in the state of Virginia but throughout the United States.  I shared my opinion and gave adults insight into opportunities they could be missing when engaging and connecting with the youth. I’ve always wanted to make a change and be a voice for those who did not believe they had one or were too afraid to use their own voice, and with this event, I was able to check that off my goal list. To the youth, I want you to know that adults are willing to listen to you.  You know something that they don’t, and they need your help to make sure that your future is just right.  Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion or scared to be a voice for others.  Everyone deserves for their voice to be heard!

To view VFHY’s Youth Empowerment: When Youth Talk, We Listen webinars of this series, please click here.

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