The ‘Be the Change’ Youth Training Program, first implemented in 2013, is an annual opportunity for youth age 14-18 to connect with like-minded peers from around the country who are passionate leaders of change in their schools and communities. During the program, participants learn about and discuss health and education topics, develop advocacy and leadership skills, and have fun through interactive, team-building activities. ‘Be the Change’ participants network with each other and school-based health care advocates at the convention and engage in various workshops about health, education, policy, and leadership. ‘Be the Change’ offers young people a platform to grow in knowledge and confidence as directors of their health and champions of youth voices.

 

Reflections from Past Participants

As I enter my Junior year as an undergrad, I’ve been reflecting a lot on how much has changed since my first year attending ‘Be The Change.’ I find myself transitioning into adulthood, wondering what my place is with the youth organizations I once championed. Despite all these changes and transitions, one thing has remained a constant: across the nation, young people are a force to be reckoned with. Call it resilience, call it talent– I was so thoroughly impressed by the initiative and the passion in everyone that I met this past year at convention. In these past weeks, I have gladly found my place in a mentoring, supportive role as more and more young people rise to the call of self-advocacy. 

I enjoyed ‘Be The Change’ because of how engaging the presenters were. The material was overall very useful which I plan on incorporating in the work that I have been doing this summer and even beyond to other work in the future. The presenters and members were organized and made the presentations exciting even when some crowds weren’t too comfortable with sharing their own experiences. 

I appreciate there was an actual Youth Program. I’ve been to other conferences where we were just with the adults and many of the topics didn’t necessarily directly apply to us.  Our Youth Program was presented in a way that was engaging for us as youth. When we mingled with the adults, it gave us the right information to take in at our level.