2013 National Youth Leadership Initiative in Austin, TX
BASE brought 4 Evansville teens, Marissa Haegele, Aliye Gallagher, Courtney Bergsma and Anna Nelson, to the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America National Youth Leadership Conference, Jen Braun served as their advisor on the trip. Two BASE members attended the conference as well, Jim Brooks and Tajali Tolan. This trip was more than just attending a conference and learning about coalitions and preparing them to become leaders in our community. It was also a chance for the girls to gain independence by traveling alone without their families, getting an opportunity to explore a new city and state and to make new friends and contacts from all over the country. Here is a brief recap of our trip!
For the youth Sunday, our first day of travel, was full of adventure with canceled and delayed flights and many unexpected travel hiccups, as we all made our separate ways to Texas by bus, van, cab and plane through Chicago, Milwaukee, San Antonio and Atlanta. Monday we hit the ground running in the morning. Courtney, Anna, Aliya and Marissa began their National Youth Leadership Training with Jen and Jim took in the course on do’s and don’ts of advocacy. After lunch at the Convention Center in a joint session with the Texas Behavioral Health Institute, Tajali went to a class on evaluating local conditions, Jim sat in with national branding experts for a session on building the BASE brand and the Youth Leadership group learned about the attributes of a leader. For night life the youth had a Meet and Greet, an Austin BBQ and we viewed the world’s largest urban bat colony emerge from under the Congress Street Bridge.
Tuesday started early in Austin with a quick crepes breakfast and then straight into heavier fare. The Youth Leadership Group spent the morning learning how to identify problems in their own community and searching for root causes. In the afternoon they began assessing their community and diving into Logic Models. Jim and Tajali learned about an exciting new way to share the stories of those whose voices are too often ignored. Photovoice uses images and stories to examine the avenues of change that are open to communities. The rest of the day was spent exploring evaluation and communication. Lunch today was at the Downtown Burger trailer, dinner was pizza and salads ordered in after a long hot afternoon of exploring Zilker Park; wandering through their Botanical Garden and taking a dip in Barton Springs Pool, a natural spring-fed pool that stays crystal clear and 68 degrees year round.
Wednesday bought another hot day in Austin for the CADCA Midyear conference. We started with a quick breakfast at Annie’s, a local French inspired restaurant. The NYLI group spent their day learning how to identify local conditions, root causes, answering questions like; buy why? And but why here? This led to the beginnings of a Logic Model. Tajali started her morning learning the ins and outs of marijuana prevention and her afternoon on how to prevent underage drinking parties. Meanwhile Jim attended an a.m. session on federal policies and how to advocate for prevention and his afternoon in a session gathering ideas on how to run effective coalition meetings. After an evening walk to the capitol building for a self-guided tour we finally had our authentic Texas BBQ from Stubbs (Jim had been very patiently waiting all week for the girls to pick this for their dinner choice.) That night the youth were off for their Youth Dance with the rest of the youth conference attendees.
Our last day we had a day full of workshops and travel, we landed in Milwaukee at 10:30 p.m. The NYLI crew spent their day putting together Youth in Action Projects, these are projects with step by steps actions they are going to take to create change in their community. This is a project they put together themselves and they are very excited to present it to the coalition and get started. The end of the day for them was bittersweet, we were all excited and ready to go home, but sad to say goodbye to the many friends that were made. Tajali was immersed in Evaluation Strategies all morning and listening in on a session on creating community wide approach to reducing Rx Abuse. Jim attended a workshop on strategies for reducing underage drinking at community fairs and festivals.Thankfully, our travel home was uneventful. The young ladies that attended represented BASE well and I am very proud of them. We should all feel very proud to have such amazing, hardworking and caring young people in our community; I can’t wait to see the change that they make in our community. If you see them around town, please ask them about their experience and thank them for representing BASE so well.