If we want to get anywhere, young people need to be directly involved in informing and creating programming meant to address their needs and challenges. In our work in Louisiana through the LEAPS initiative, that's where the Teen Advisory Committee comes in. Ta'Mya Davis, the TAC communications chair, recently shared her perspective on why the group and experience have been so valuable for her—and the broader community of Shreveport.
"The Teen Advisory Committee is something that my community has needed for a long time," writes Ta'Mya in Teens Take Action in Louisiana. The group includes 30 young leaders who are identifying their priority issues and offering solutions. Through discussion and surveying their peers, they know the biggest problems teens face locally: education, mental health, and civic engagement. TAC's proposed solutions have included increasing exposure to jobs, helping career counselors know how best to reach young people (think Instagram, not flyers), equipping teachers to identify students with anxiety and depression, and getting their friends and classmates involved in community service projects.
"The TAC has been an eye opener that helps adults realize the daily struggles and challenges that teens face in our community," Ta'Mya writes. "This unique and amazing group allows us, the teens, to be the experts. Because we actually deal with these problems and experiences head-on, we can offer unique firsthand thoughts and opinions that adults don’t have."
Ta'Mya describes how participating in the TAC has also helped her develop as a leader. "Since becoming a member, I have improved my time management, communication and effective listening skills. [For example,] because I am involved in many other groups, I have to properly manage my time.
"My participation in the Teen Advisory Committee has allowed me not only to become a better version of myself, but to help my peers do the same. Honestly, I have never been more excited to be a part of a group! The other members allow me to be optimistic about the future. They are ready to work, take action and improve the overall well-being of teens."
Hear directly from TAC president Bhavani Tivakaran on advocating for change, and read perspectives from Robert Lawrence, vice president, and Annika Robinson, secretary, on the International Youth Day 2019 theme of education.