Nine members of the Champaign County Drug Free Youth Coalition recently attended a Youth 2 Youth International Conference held at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, from June 22-25. The conference was attended by at least 400 youth from across the United States who were all eager to participate in the drug and alcohol free conference. During the 4 day, 3 night stay, the youth participants attended workshops of many varieties, which allowed them to place themselves in real-life situations in which drugs and/or alcohol were present. The participants then were asked to describe what the issue(s) were and how they would’ve treated each situation differently. There were also special speakers, including Shaun Derrik, Tei Street, and Sam Glenn, who shared their own personal stories and life wisdom to help the youth understand the importance of a substance free life and the consequences of taking drugs and/or alcohol. Additionally, they shared the importance of making your own choices and to “walk in your own amazing” which was explained as being yourself, as you are special.
Following the conference, several youths from Champaign County Drug Free Youth Coalition were asked what they thought of their experience at conference. Barbara Ofori’s described the conference, “It was a fun-filled week, jam-packed with motivational speakers and useful information. Many new friendships were also created. Overall it was a great experience!” “The conference was a learning experience that helped me grow as a person,” said Haylee Johns. Ivy Nutt’s description was, “Something I will always remember.” Emma Lockwood had a great time! Or so we can infer from her, “Best week of my life!” response. Last, but certainly not least, Morgan Hamilton thought that it was “a life-changing experience.” I think it goes without saying that the Youth 2 Youth International conference was a big success. The youth who attended the conference are very excited to bring back to our community what they have learned.