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Florida Youth Council
Each summer, the Florida Youth Council hosts its Annual Youth Summit. This two-day event offers youth and emerging leaders from Florida between the ages of 13 and 30 an opportunity to get to know each other, share ideas and concerns, and become better, more confident advocates for themselves and their peers. The summit is both fun and educational, and provides plenty of opportunities for informal networking. The 3rd Annual Youth Summit was held August 6-7, 2010 at the Florida Hotel & Conference Center. It was my first time going and it was a blast and I am definitely going next year! What follows is a recap of the 2-day event. If you are a youth with a disability between the ages of 13 and 30 and you live in Florida this is definitely something worth looking into.
The summit started late afternoon on Friday. I checked in at the registration desk, got my name tag and hung out for a little bit with a mix of old and new friends. At about 3 pm we made our way into the room where the keynote speech was to be held. The speaker’s name was Mike Beers. Mike is a stand up comic who happens to be disabled. He shared with us his life story as well as life lessons in a fun and humorous way. If you want to know more about him you can YouTube him or you can log on to mikebeerscomedy.com.The life lesson that I learned from the speech is that you have to be able to make fun of yourself and the things that the people around you do because we can not change what God gives us whether it be good or bad, but we can always find joy in what He gives to us. Remember, life itself is a gift.
After the keynote speech was done the family café asked our folks to go off and enjoy themselves. After they left, the Youth Council took over and divided us into groups according to a theme, which this year was movies and so each group was a movie genre. I was placed into the romance group. Each group was run by a Youth Council member. My group was headed by 2 of my friends, Megan Atkinson and Carly Fahey. After we knew who our groups were we made our way into a second room where the icebreakers were to be held. We played autograph bingo as well as the game survivor where we pretended we were on a deserted island and we could only bring one item, and we sat in a circle and went around the room and responded to the question.
Then it was time for us to go back to our hotel room and grab a bite to eat. After that we had a movie night where we all enjoyed Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and then we went off to bed to get up at 930am the next day.
At 930 the next day, a Saturday, we were back. First we made masks for the dance that night although none of used them. Then we had lunch and afterwards we went to a session on how to have healthy relationships. It was taught by Andrew Derek who is a professor at the University of Central Florida and he works in a counseling program and he also works at the Institute of Marriage and Family so what he does all day is teach people how to have heathier relationships. I would like to share with you all what I learned
The invitation rule: “Hey! How are you? Can I talk to you? You must ask a person if you can talk to them, tell them something or if you can share something with them rather then blurt it out.
Dally temperature reading: Ask a person if it’s ok if I do something with you or ask you something.
Appreciation rule: Tell the person what you appreciate about them. “You know so and so I really appreciate you for being this,” or “I appreciate you for doing this.”
Sharing things helps to strengthen relationships.
Empty the jar of emotions: Ask the person what they are sad, mad, glad, happy and joyful about.
Then we went to two individual break-out sessions and afterwards I went back to my hotel room, showered, got a bite to eat and danced the night away with my old and new friends. I cannot wait until next year. It was the best weekend of my whole summer and I hope to a part of the Florida Youth Council by then!