What makes the Teen Wellness Conference (TWC) the best conference ever? So glad you asked!
Below is my Q&A interview with one of the 2018 TWC planning members, Meghna Singh, a senior at Gunn High School in Palo Alto. Meghna was also an attendee of the inaugural TWC in September 2017.
Here's what she had to say about the 2018 TWC:
Nadia: What is the Teen Wellness Conference?
Meghna: To me, the Teen Wellness Conference is the perfect space for young people from all over the Bay Area to convene in order to embrace learning and increase awareness about not just mental health, but about our society as a whole.
At this year’s conference, students will have the opportunity to listen to inspiring youth speakers, participate in interactive breakout groups of their choosing, explore wellness resources, and pose questions to our panelists and experts throughout the day.
Nadia: Why do you think the conference is important?
Meghna: This conference is unique, as it is youth-focused and entirely planned and organized by youth. The TWC allows all youth to share their thoughts and experiences in a safe and comfortable space. It gives youth an opportunity to learn from our peers about wellness initiatives and routines that we can add to our own life or even bring back to our own communities.
Nadia: Why did you attend last year (2017)?
Meghna: Last year, I attended the conference because I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and learn more about wellness and mental health. What better way than to attend a conference that was planned by teens and about a topic I hold near and dear to my heart?
Nadia: How and why are you involved in planning this year?
Meghna: I actually asked you (Nadia) if I could be a part the planning team at 3pm on September 30, 2017. Yes, that is exactly one hour before the first TWC concluded last year. I saw what an incredible event it was and how we could use this platform to engage and connect youth to such an important topic; I wanted to help pull it all together for the next event.
My personal goal this year has been to make the conference as valuable and interactive as possible. I am the liaison between the conference planning team and Google’s Virtual Reality team. The Google VR team is sponsoring the event and dedicated to making sure students get the most out of their experience.
I also will be leading activation piece at the end of the day, which is a time for reflection on next steps and future involvement for youth attendees. We aim for the TWC to go beyond acting as a one-time “event” and, rather, act as a launch-pad for further and continued youth involvement.
Nadia: Who do you hope will attend?
Meghna: EVERYONE. Seriously...everyone!
If you are between the ages of 13 and 25 – regardless of if you have any prior knowledge of mental health or not – I promise the conference will be a valuable and impactful experience for you.
Whether you are thinking of attending because mental health has affected you personally, or you are part of a wellness club at school, or simply you want to learn more, we would love to have you there.
Attendees from last year expressed in their feedback that they made connections with peers and mentors at the conference that they knew would last for years to come.
Nadia: What can attendees expect at the conference?
Meghna: Attendees can expect a day that will be engaging, inspiring, and will raise awareness around mental health in our communities. What’s great about the conference is that youth have the opportunity to customize their own schedules. You will be able to decide exactly which breakout groups you would like to attend, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, so that you can learn more about what interests you.
The breakout sessions are led by professionals and will cover a wide range of topics within mental health, which we have narrowed down into six broad themes:
- Yoga, Mindfulness, & Creative Expression
- Peer Support: How to Maintain Healthy Relationships
- Breaking Down Media Portrayals of Mental Illness
- Digital/Social Media and Mental Health
- Identity & Acceptance
- Advocacy, Policy, & Youth Voice
We also will have lots of merchandise, goodies, and free food available throughout the day!
Nadia: Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share?
Meghna: I can’t wait to meet all of you on Saturday, September 22!! This conference is truly an incredible opportunity to meet new people, get involved with local organizations, learn about resources, and share your candid and honest thoughts about youth mental health. Your voice matters and you will be heard at the TWC.
Images Courtesy of iStock