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Why Youth Engagement Matters: Our Youths’ Perspective

elmoreby Trimease K. Carter, MSW
ESMMSC Youth Engagement Manager

Eat Smart Move More South Carolina hosted its first youth engagement video/essay contest to answer the question Why Youth Engagement Matters to Me? The first place winner was Teresa Elmore of the Allendale County HYPE Team, and the second place winner was Jade King of the Dorchester County HYPE Team. Both girls won VISA gift cards and the chance to participate on a youth engagement panel at the 2015 S.C. Obesity Summit.

In Teresa Elmore’s essay, she spoke about the fruit and vegetable taste testing and healthy food bar that will be added to her school’s cafeteria, as a result of Allendale County HYPE Team’s project. Teresa also explained how she feels about her involvement with the HYPE Project: “I feel what I am doing is a positive thing for my community,” she said. “I am happy to help others make a change for a healthier lifestyle.”

kingJade King’s essay focused on the importance of learning life and leadership skills through The HYPE Project. She also touched on the impact her HYPE experience has had on her own life perspective. She said, “Through youth participation we learn responsibility and life skills to take us through our adult life. The HYPE Project has made me a better leader and person. Youth participation gives us empowerment and helps us to realize that we have greater control over our lives.”
Teresa and Jade travelled to Columbia for the S.C. Obesity Summit, along with their families, to participate on the youth engagement panel and to experience the Summit. They were joined by Aliyah Day of the Richland County HYPE Team, who volunteered to join her peers and share her HYPE Project experience. During the panel session, the three youth expressed their gratitude and excitement about being involved in the Summit and were well received by the audience. One session attendee stated, “I loved the idea of having three youth on the panel and attending the Summit. Their comments were very candid and informative.”