Student advocates explore teen health at Y2Y Summit

The L.A. Trust Y2Y Summit on April 1 featured frank talk, strong engagement and a Millennium theme.

Honest discussions and strong engagement were the order of the day as more than 80 students and their supporters met April 1 at The L.A. Trust Youth to Youth Student Health Summit online. 

Student health advocates from seven Student Advisory Boards, LAUSD Student Health and Human Services, L.A. County Department of Public Health, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Black Women for Wellness attended the conference. The event was sponsored by Cedars-Sinai, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Essential Access Health, Health Net and Joe Sanberg, co-founder of Aspiration. 

The half-day learning event included entertainment, activities and six workshops on student health issues, including HPV and other STDs, substance use, daily challenges and safer sex.

Maryjane Puffer, executive director of The L.A. Trust, welcomed the participants. “I am so proud of the work you are doing. You are positive change agents — you are going down in history for improving your schools and communities.” 

The Y2Y Summit was facilitated by The L.A. Trust’s student engagement team, including Robert Renteria, Rosario Rico, Mackenzie Scott and Dannielle Griffin. “Engagement was very high, especially for a virtual event,” Renteria said. “Students came prepared to share, learn and support each other, and they returned a lot of great feedback after the event.” 

No perfect path 

Irma Rosa Viera, a CalState Northridge Student and former SAB member from Elizabeth Learning Center, previewed “Life After High School.” Viera talked about her post-high school experiences and said, “Don’t fear not knowing what your career will be – I thought I was going to be an interpreter and switched to child development counselor.” She added, “There may be downs but finding the silver lining is going to be awesome.”  

Rico said there “is no perfect path” and pointed out that there are alternatives to four-year college, including entrepreneurship, vocational training and military service, which provides funds for college. When quizzed about their career interests, students cited healthcare, business, entrepreneurship, computers, mechanics and engineering as top possibilities.  

Other breakout workshops included Know Your HPV Facts, The Highs and Lows of Substance Use, The ABCs of STDs, Daily Challenges, and Sexual Health and Safe(r) Sex.

Coping with COVID 

L.A. Unified SHHS Organization Facilitator Victor Luna led a panel discussion by the L.A. Department of Public Health (DPH) COVID Youth Advisory Board that featured Evan Bowman, junior at Archer School for Girls; Gisselle Gonzalez, Stanford University freshman; Osiris Lamon, Paraclete High School junior; and Morgan McIntosh, Marymount High School junior.  

Luna asked the youth advisors how they had been coping with COVID. Lamon, a DPH youth advisor, cited talking with friends, spending time with family and friends, and giving back. Other student quarantine recommendations included exercise, studying, painting, anime and “lots of movies.” 

Y2Y meets Y2K

Zoom backgrounds and The L.A. Trust’s in-house DJ — Program Manager Nina Nguyen — set a Millennial mood with graphics and music matching the event’s theme, “Y2Y Meets Y2K.” GrubHub coupons were sent to students so they could enjoy the event’s traditional lunch. 

A social media contest garnered nearly 100 new posts and followers on Instagram. Brayam of Jordan High won the contest and a Nintendo Switch Lite portable game console.   

Nearly 90% of attendees surveyed said attending the Summit was worth their time; 93% said they would recommend the event to a friend. Kristie Garrison, LAUSD Healthy Start Coordinator and an Adult Ally of the Carson High SAB, praised the event and its student participants. 

A Belmont High student said, “It was my first Y2Y — awesome presentations and great to see other youth leaders!” Taaliyah, a student from Washington Prep, said the Summit reached her mind and heart because it addressed mental health and relationships. Isaac from Manual Arts High School said, “I learned new things — things I can call out and use.”

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