First Person: Traveling to D.C. as a Youth Health Advisor

Makayla is smiling, standing in front of a glass privacy wall with fish graphics on it

Editor’s Note: A group of high school students, all members of Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Youth Advisory Council, recently traveled to Washington D.C. with hospital team members to learn more about school-based health and youth leadership. Two students were selected to deliver a presentation at the events.

Makayla Jackson, a senior at East High School in Columbus, shares her experiences below.

By Makayla Jackson  

The trip to Washington, D.C., for the national School-Based Health Alliance Conference and Be The Change Youth Leadership Program was really great to say the least. I was selected to go on the four-day trip by a fellow East High School Youth Advisory Council member who was presenting at the program and our Nationwide Children’s Youth Advisory Council curator. They believed that I could offer moral support to our presenter and review the presentation if needed. Our curator also believed I could benefit from the experience as a whole, which I did.

On the first day, we met with student-based heath youth and adult advocates from all over the country. This was the fastest I’ve connected with others from various backgrounds, and I believe this was because we shared common goals and a drive for student health. The next day, this sense of community was only  heightened. This was the first day of conferences and being able to listen to like-minded youth present on student and school-based health topics such as sexual assault awareness, disparities minority youths face, and learning to teach safe sex educationally and effectively.

This was a great event that was interesting and even fun at times. With many chances of learning and collaborating with one another despite being from different backgrounds and locations, I firmly believe we all were able to gain new knowledge to take back to our communities back in our states and districts.

On the second day of conferences, I was ready to learn more (it helped that I accidently left my phone at the hotel). We heard many more group presentations, which was a lot of fun and informational because we all had already connected and opened up to each other at this point. From presenting posters to acting out scenes, we collaborated in various ways to teach one another.

This presentation was aimed to help our new friends map their goals and ideas. We collaborated on making a giant MAP IT, on which we mapped ways we want to improve the way students manage stress and burnout. This was really fun and informational. After the presentation and activity, an adult asked us youth for advice on implementing school-based health and school clinics. Being able to provide an adult with advice from our student voices and perspectives was an occurrence I won’t forget.

This trip was really inspiring for me, and I assure you it was for many others as well. We were all given the opportunity to learn information and bring it home. It was a successful and memorable event.