YLI 2023: Students Are Creating Positive Community Change


355496407_650774527096827_3288567293428284573_n.jpgOur United Way’s Broward Youth Coalition (BYC) is comprised of young leaders in middle schools and high schools across Broward County who are dedicated to making our community healthier and stronger.

Through BYC, these students collaborate as a cohesive unit of advocates with this primary aim — the prevention of substance use and the promotion of mental health in Broward County. In addition to complementing programs in participating schools, BYC leads three school-based clubs at Atlantic Technical High SchoolWestglades Middle School and Fort Lauderdale High School.

Benefits to students who are participating in BYC include:

  • having unique, meaningful opportunities with volunteer opportunities
  • sharing insights and networking with peers and community leaders
  • developing both life-long personal and professional skills

355130193_650760903764856_8819261828663482979_n.jpgBYC members are community leaders who encourage their peers to make healthy decisions, and data shows active members will be better equipped to remain drug-free and will have increased success in navigating through school transitions, college and their futures.

One outstanding way BYC is empowering young people and increasing its goals for a healthier Broward County is by hosting frequent, ongoing events throughout the year, and in June this month, BYC held its biggest event of the year — its annual Youth Leadership Institute (YLI) conference.

The YLI conference is an exceptional event in Broward County when young students come together to create positive community change. With fresh perspectives and ideas, these young leaders are identifying and implementing their own solutions to the many issues our community is facing.

Presented as a virtual session on June 13 and then as an in-person event on June 15 at Nova Southeastern University, YLI was a free, two-day, peer-to-peer event that focused on:

  • developing and educating youth leadership for students from grade 7 to grade 12
  • promoting mental health awareness through speakers, panel discussions, workshops and interactive breakouts
  • providing participants with long-term skills and knowledge about the prevention of substance use
  • identifying trends related to substance use and mental health
  • outlining best practices that can create a healthier Broward County

355225598_650775387096741_4843165392817080946_n.jpgYLI is a student-led event, including seven BYC students who acted as presenters, and the attendance this year had an incredible overflow of participation — 185 attendees registered for the virtual session on Day 1, and more than 140 youth attendees showed interest for the in-person session on Day 2 at Nova Southeastern University.

Over 100 thought leaders — from schools, churches, temples, civic organizations, municipalities and national organizations — also joined the YLI conference to help students enhance their knowledge, skills and experience. The conference also had a range of festivities, prizes and giveaways, as well as credits for community service, for student attendees.

Watch what some students had to say about their powerful experiences at YLI: 

For their tremendous support of the YLI conference, huge thanks goes to:

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Each of these organizations generously gave time, staff and funds through sponsorship; presented gift cards and prizes; and provided assistance with transportation for attendees.

355494655_650760833764863_4832480760430616931_n.jpgThis annual YLI conference enables one-of-a-kind, meaningful opportunities where participants are collaborating and brainstorming, meeting new people and developing relationships, and focusing their attention and sharpening the skills they need for today and the future.

At our United Way’s BYC, we harness all the energy, passion and optimism of today’s students and then help shape it into transformative power that is improving our community. Through events like the YLI conference, BYC is guiding young people to be articulate presenters, capable listeners, strong-minded organizers and inspiring community advocates.

How can you connect to BYC and be an advocate for social change?