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THE POWER TO EMPOWER


TeenzTalk's 2019 Teen Wellness Conference was an overwhelming and gratifying experience. I had the honor of being in a room full of future leaders who were present, unapologetic, and loud. They were loud about their needs and desires for change, and loud about putting the stigma surrounding mental health to an end. I had the privilege of being one of three youth speakers at the conference.

When I heard about this event and was asked to be a speaker, I knew I had to be there. This is much more than my career. This is my passion. My speech drew from my own lived experience and what I’ve learned throughout my advocacy work. However, it also drew from my hopes and desires for change. I reminded the attendees that speaking up is being BRAVE. Toxic masculinity plays a big role in many cultures. Phrases such as “toughen up” or “don’t let them see you cry” are common, but true bravery shines when you’re most vulnerable. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health. When our body hurts we go to the doctors, but often cases when people feel sad or alone they keep it to themselves. Which is why it is crucial to dismantle the stigma surrounding mental health. As a QPOC (Queer Person of Color) my mission on the day of the conference was to hopefully have my story and journey serve as a source of inspiration to at least one person in that room. TeenzTalk’s Teen Wellness Conference reminded me that a generation of unapologetic and brave leaders is emerging. The room full of young people reminded me that change is achieved by people coming together for the same cause, and that our voices are powerful. This conference can benefit any young person who has found their voice and also all young people who are still searching for theirs. The conference serves as a reminder to youth that their voices can propel their dreams for a better tomorrow into a reality. Even if people question the power of their voice, or if they question their own power... The purpose of the conference is to empower young people, so that they can put on some shades and say “watch me”.