Hello, my name is Carina Chen. I am fourteen years old, I am from Oklahoma and last, but definitely not least, I am a member of the leadership team at YAHL. YAHL stands for Youth Action for Health and Leadership, and they are a health activist group working towards two campaigns: CounterAct Tobacco and Elevate Student Health. These campaigns collect surveys and communicate with lawmakers and school administration to change policies to help restrict tobacco usage in youth and encourage them to make healthy decisions. I originally decided to join YAHL so I could be more present in my community and participate in another extracurricular activity. However, now that I have become a leadership team member, I have gained that and so much more such as confidence, social skills, friends and connections. Plus, the health activism threat YAHL works on is important in the case that a large percentage of Oklahoma youth is unhealthy and uses tobacco products. In future years, I hope I can use the tools that YAHL has given me to really make an impact and better my community and its health.
I want to see change within my community because every day I see many of my peers making bad choices with their life, and I am sad to think of how many opportunities are going down the drain due to the lack of knowledge and encouragement. YAHL has helped me accomplish many of my goals. For example, after collecting surveys and talking to people about this campaign, I have gained confidence in public speaking and talking to strangers. To make a bigger impact on my community, I would like to go on to give a partner presentation to my district’s school board and talk to some of the state’s legislatures.
While my personal goals benefit me and give me motivation, they also help to uplift my community. For example, when I gained experience talking to strangers it helped me to collect more surveys, thus getting more data to convince lawmakers and the people in charge. The others in my community also benefit by being restricted from inhaling toxic chemicals that come from tobacco products and being provided with healthy options that they can fine-tune to habits and routines when they become adults. They can also benefit by gaining social skills and confidence if they join this program. They can join if their high school already offers it, or they can request it as well! I would definitely recommend this program to anyone as they can not only improve themselves, but they can also uplift their community simultaneously.