A dozen SRSLY youth traveled to Columbus, Ohio, in June where they joined hundreds of youth from across the country for the Youth to Youth International’s Conference. Held from June 18 through 21 at Ohio Dominican University, the conference focused on engaging young people through meaningful activities and experiences to help them develop and implement their own ideas to create positive change.
Youth from each of the four SRSLY communities – Chelsea, Dexter, Manchester, and Stockbridge – attended the conference, where they heard from nationally known speakers, attended interactive workshops, and learned positive leadership skills.
Youth were also able to befriend students from across the country who are similarly working to prevent youth substance use.
Stockbridge High School senior and SRSLY youth member Caitlin Fowler attended the conference as a youth staff member for the second time this year. She said the conference is the best part of her summer.
“You get to know a lot of new people and being youth staff is the best thing that you could do,” Fowler said. “You learn leadership skills, problem solving skills, and you get to meet people who become like your family.”
The youth all participated in “Family Group” meetings of conference attendees, or small groups that provide a space for them to reflect and talk about what they had learned each day. SRSLY youth said these groups were one of their favorite parts of the conference.
Youth also heard from inspirational speakers.
Dexter 8th grade student Sydney Tchoryk said one speaker shared the message about how they can use their passion to create change in their communities.
“Passion has the meaning of PASS-I-ON, passing yourself on through your actions,” Tchoryk said.
With a host of new leadership skills, that’s exactly what the SRSLY youth plan to do.
SRSLY’s mission is to empower youth to live healthy, substance-free lives by bringing the community together. SRSLY receives support from the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Drug-Free Communities Program, the Coghlan Family Foundation, St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea, and the Five Healthy Towns Foundation. For more information, visit www.srslycoalition.org or follow SRSLY on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.