Coalitions in Action – Teen Advisory Council of Knox County's Mid-Year Experience

Last week, four teens from Knox County’s Teen Advisory Council (TAC) attended CADCA’s Mid-Year Training Institute for the first time. In a newly released podcast episode, the group shared their expectations going into the week and what became their favorite experiences. Lindsey Lamp, Prevention Coordinator at New Directions, reflected on last week’s training from her perspective as their adult advisor.

“This was my second time bringing youth to Mid-Year. In 2019, two of our youth were able to attend the Key Essentials training, which really helped as they worked on developing and revising our strategic plan. Since then, we’ve used and shared the skills and knowledge they brought back with them to update the plan each year,” said Lindsey.

“My goal for this year’s group was for them to learn, build connections and gain perspective that there is a bigger world out there outside of Knox County, Ohio. Every day during the conference I told them to make the choices that were best for them. During the Youth Opening Ceremony, they were reviewing the different track options and two of the youth spoke up and asked if they could switch to the Leveling Up Communities track instead because it resonated more with them.”

“The other two youth were more hesitant to switch tracks, so they stuck with our original choice of attending the Key Essentials training. However, as they attended their first session, they realized that they were already familiar with the content, and also wanted to switch tracks. This became an opportunity for them to practice leadership skills and work out changing tracks by speaking with the trainers. I think that ultimately was a cool moment to show them that they were in control of what they could get out of this experience and that they needed to take ownership for their decisions.”

“Ultimately, they were very happy with their choice to attend the Leveling Up Communities track. They had the opportunity to experience different perspectives and experience conflict in a healthy, respectful way. They really valued the open and honest communication that the track fostered and the opportunity to also change their minds about various topics in the process.”

“During the week, they also were able to participate in a mock press conference. They chose to speak about suicide and how it relates to the disparities within black culture. They used national, state, and local data to showcase their point, wrote a problem statement, and created a plan of action and a strategy for how they would invite the press to be a part of that action - all with minimal support. They loved having the opportunity to brag about the work they’re doing in their community, as well as the chance to hear what others are doing and what they might be able to replicate.”

Following Mid-Year, the youth that attended will be able to share with the rest of the TAC what they learned from the week and apply that knowledge as they review their strategic plan. “The TAC is currently in the process of planning the largest event that they host, which is a race called ‘Color for a Cause,’ and they always have messaging that goes along with it. After attending Mid-Year, I think the messaging will be more intentional and shift based on their new perspective.”

In addition to the lessons-learned that the youth will bring back to their community, “they developed friendships that I believe will continue to grow beyond this week. Between the breakout sessions, Youth Meet and Greet and Talent Show, they really got to connect with their peers on different levels, which they really appreciated.”

Lastly, Lindsey shared her advice for those looking to bring youth to future CADCA training events, “Don’t be scared. Get lots of sleep beforehand. Go in with an open mind. The goal is just to support the youth, encourage them to learn and get as much out of it as they can.”

To hear the CADCA Mid-Year experience from the perspective of the youth TAC members, listen to their podcast episode here, which they recorded on-site throughout the week of training.