Coming Back to Give Back
Former Broward Youth Coalition Participant Returns to Serve on Commission’s Board of Governors
Regina was a junior at Fort Lauderdale High School when a teacher approached her to participate in the Broward Youth Coalition (BYC) chapter that was forming at the school. BYC is a program of United Way of Broward County’s Commission on Behavioral Health & Drug Prevention aimed at students in middle and high schools in Broward County and addressing issues such as alcohol and substance use, mental health, teen suicide, social media and more. In the 2019-2020 school year, there are BYC chapters at five schools in Broward County.
A leader in her class, Regina jumped at the chance to participate. “BYC provided the platform for us to yell at the top of our lungs about topics like substance use and abuse, especially at a time when vaping was starting to gain popularity. We learned about substances in our community and how to help others struggling with them,” she says.
Most importantly, Regina says, the students learned how to listen. “Everyone needs someone to talk to, someone to guide them,” she says. As a musician, she particularly liked the message of “listening 80 percent of the time, talking 20 percent of the time.” “In an orchestra, you wait until you fit in where you are needed – then you play. It should be like that in a conversation, too.”
Regina had the opportunity to practice what she learned from BYC when a friend was experimenting with drugs. “I knew that everyone has different coping mechanisms when they are stressed out,” she says, “I listened to her talk about the pressures she was feeling and then suggested different ways she could find an escape – like through art, music, dancing.”
The experience with BYC was so powerful, Regina decided to come back to serve since graduating high school. Now an 18-year-old freshman at Florida Atlantic University, she is a member of the Board of Governors of the Commission on Behavioral Health & Drug Prevention. She is also considering a career as a youth advocate or a lobbyist for education reform.
Her job on the Board of Governors, she says: “To absorb information. To actively listen and then take back information to the community.”
BYC is one of many programs funded by United Way of Broward County to fight for the health, education and financial stability of every person in Broward County. To learn more about the Commission on Behavioral Health & Drug Prevention, click here.