In my four years as a member of Texans Standing Tall’s Youth Leadership Council (YLC), I have grown as a person in ways I never expected. I developed leadership skills, gained experience with public speaking, and acquired the tools necessary to become an outspoken advocate in my community. I gained all of this and more because the YLC pushed me to reach my potential and become an active and engaged citizen.
Adults in my community were very supportive of me and Texans Standing Tall’s vision to prevent young people from using alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Through my presentations at TST’s annual Statewide Summit and other events like the Texas Interdisciplinary Addiction Institute (TXIA), I was able to network with fellow El Pasoans, which opened the door to new opportunities. I was able to work with U In the Driver seat at my university, and I was asked to help give a presentation at Aliviane, one of the local coalitions in El Paso. The support from these organizations back at home helped give me the drive I needed – and the hope that we could indeed reduce drinking and other drug use among youth.
Today, in my new role as the youngest board member for Texans Standing Tall, I will continue to push myself and remain an active member of my community.
But I also have a new goal for myself: to do more to encourage adults to become involved in Texans Standing Tall and the Youth Leadership Council.
How can adults help youth like me? They can start by encouraging up-and-coming leaders.
Teenagers don’t necessarily feel like they have the potential to make an impact in their community. An adult who believes in them, encourages them to fight for what they think is right, and helps them embrace their hidden potential can make all the difference in our pursuit of leadership roles. Some are born leaders, but others are made leaders. Adults can help young people become future leaders by pushing us beyond what we think we are capable of.
Some concrete suggestions for how to lift up young leaders:
- Take the time to learn more about any organization they care about or are involved in. This means asking questions as well as doing some of your own research, from looking at websites to engaging on social media pages.
- Attend a meeting with them, if you’re allowed. (It doesn’t hurt to ask!)
- If you can’t attend a meeting, give them a ride. This lets them know you support them and are prioritizing their involvement.
- Talk to other adults about the organization(s) your child or young friend is involved in. Spreading the word about their work through conversations can inspire other adults to talk to their kids about becoming active in an organization.
- Make an investment in the organization your young leader is involved in. This could come in the form of a monetary donation or volunteering for an event.
In my new role on the board of directors, I pledge to engage adults in El Paso and beyond; to encourage them to get involved in the work young people are doing to build safe and drug-free communities. Our generation can’t do this alone – creating a safe and drug-free Texas is going to require collaboration between young people and the adults in our lives.
As a board member at Texans Standing Tall, I know my role is more important than ever before. I have to represent this organization beyond my El Paso community and serve as an embodiment of what it stands for. I look forward to continuing the work I do for a vision and mission I love and believe in.