Youth leadership conference explored issues, ways to engage peers for positive action

Learning and then exploring ways to engage their fellow students was the goal of Act Out Loud

Learning and then exploring ways to engage their fellow students was the goal of Act Out Loud, a two-day youth leadership conference hosted by Sylvan Lake Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) on the weekend.

It was attended by 52 people ranging in age from 13-16 from Sylvan Lake, Penhold and Delburne.

Krista Carlson, the town’s youth services program coordinator, suggested weather played a factor in the number not being higher.

The theme for the conference was injury prevention in teens. The students participated in a number of workshops and training so that they can take what they learned back to their schools and encourage peers to be more attentive to the issues.

Hunter McDonald, a 14 year old from École Fox Run School described the conference as “one of the funnest weekends I have had — getting to sleep over, talk with friends and meet new people.”

Part of the conference was planning for an event they could host at their own school to bring awareness to the issues discussed. “We were thinking about a PowerPoint. My twin brother and one of his friends made up a song. We thought we’d do it in the gym at school as a concert.”

Their theme was focused on safe practices when driving vehicles and not drinking and driving.

“We learned a lot of cool things,” McDonald said. One of those was that tests have shown there are 3,000 things a driver has to pay attention to while driving. “It’s hard to comprehend 3,000 things at one time.”

Lily Walroth, 16, an École H. J. Cody High School student, is on the youth advisory committee which planned the event. “It’s so much fun getting to meet new people. They all look like they’re having so much fun, it’s amazing,” she said.

Saturday the participants were divided into smaller groups and rotated through four modules on traffic safety. These included distracted driving, impaired driving, speeding and restraints and ATV and offroad vehicles.

Then during the “Take Action” session each group planned a community or school project.

Jordanna Meadows, 15, from H. J. Cody, said her group chose something to interest a certain audience. “We thought it would be cool to do a mock collision so we planned it out. I think that would get high school students engaged.”

She added during an interview Sunday morning, that the conference was going “pretty good”.

“We learned a lot yesterday about traffic safety. I’m meeting a lot of cool people, some people from Sylvan I didn’t even know lived here.”

The conference was “uplifting”, Meadows said, describing it as “a good place to come. I’m really happy it turned out well.” She’s also one of the YAC members who have been planning the event since October.

On Sunday the group focused on issues such as suicide prevention, bullying and mental health. They discussed things they can do to bring the issues to light, how to prevent them from happening and then community action planning around that, said Carlson.

The weekend also provided a chance for the students to “listen and engage with dynamic and inspiring speakers”.

When they weren’t learning and planning, the students enjoyed some fun. An Amazing Race Saturday evening had them out around town then they were back at the community centre for a hip hop concert.