Three Ways Youth Are at the Heart of YTH Live


Young people are at the center of YTH, which is what makes YTH Live so special. Looking back at this year’s conference, I saw that once again, youth were involved every step of the way, from planning and moderating panels to presenting and participating as attendees.

YTH’s Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is one of the key ways in which YTH involves young people in all aspects of its work. I saw this youth-centered focus during my first time at YTH Live in 2013 when I had the opportunity to present on a panel called “I Will End Sexual Violence” along with Scenarios USA. I saw how YTH valued the contributions of young people, inviting them to sit at the table and share their voices, instead of treating them as tokens.

I’d like to share three of the many ways youth were at the heart of YTH Live in 2015.

The Youth Networking Event

Young people need easy access to resources on finding employment after graduation, on mentorship opportunities, as well as other advice on transitioning into adulthood. The YAB planned and led a Youth Meetup at YTH Live for anyone age 28 and under to discuss topics like career transitions, creating a professional online presence and how to market oneself—the ‘elevator pitch’. We also had an opportunity to have a professional headshot taken!

Networking and learning at the Youth Meetup! #YTHLive

A video posted by YTH (@youthtechhealth) on

Youth in the Social Media Lounge

The YAB headed up the Social Media Lounge at YTH Live again this year, alongside and Greater than AIDS. Conference attendees came to the lounge for support on everything from social media basics to boosting Twitter engagement to launching social media campaigns.

YAB members shared their expertise and savvy, including Donya’s experience with strategy and social media campaigns for youth health; Max’s expertise in website management and development; and Gloria’s experience blogging for national organizations. These young leaders have worked on nationally recognized campaigns like Watch. Her. Lead., It’s Your Sex Life and #NoTeenShame.

The Social Media Lounge was also a place for lots of silly fun. Check out YTH’s Facebook page for a photo booth gallery that will make you LOL.

Youth-Focused Breakout Sessions

Young people were at the heart of breakout sessions focused on topics such as youth storytelling and youth-centered design, as well as sessions on issues that disproportionately impact young people like online bullying and dating abuse. In the listening session, “How to Leverage Media as a Powerful Tool for Social Justice Advocacy,” Milla Impola of Camino PR and Melissa White of Lucky Bloke presented their work on the #Tweet4Condoms campaign, which worked to change Twitter’s censorship laws that unfairly block sexual health organizations from Twitter advertising. This is a critical issue because young people use social media to get information about sexual and reproductive health.

Another youth-focused session was, “How Digital Tools Support Young Parents,” which included #NoTeenShame advocates Natasha Vianna and Gloria Malone, both whom were previously teen mothers and are now using social media to change the conversation on teen pregnancy.

Young people led conversations and moderated breakout sessions throughout YTH Live. YAB member Anthony Sis kicked off YTH Live as its MC and moderated the session, “Permalinks: Developing Stability and Health with Foster and Unstably Housed Youth.” The opening and closing plenaries featured young speakers as well, such as youth activists from Map Your World, spoken word poet Ash Phillips and online harassment activist and survivor Samm Newman.

Young people were at the heart of this year’s YTH Live, and it could not have been successful without their voices and engagement. What was your favorite youth moment of YTH Live? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter profiles!

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ZonaSegura ZonaSegura is a trauma-informed youth-centered innovative mobile solution to address teen dating violence in Honduras. Learn more about ZonaSegura on our program page.