Students become healthy professionals

Published 8:24 pm Saturday, January 27, 2018

Nansemond River High School students in the Y-Street Training Program are ready for another semester of promoting better habits for a healthier community.

Y-Street is the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth’s award-winning volunteer initiative for high school students. This school year, more than 40 students at NRHS are trained and ready to promote healthier, tobacco-free lifestyles.

Their next campaign will be Tobacco Free 24/7 on Feb. 14. They will have a display in the school cafeteria with information, and surveys about the harmful effects of smoking will be distributed to students and faculty to help reinforce tobacco- and e-cigarette-free policies.

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Y-Street members promote their plans on social media, invite others to volunteer and get permission from school officials for their efforts. These negotiations are led by the Y-Street Leadership Team, consisting of NRHS juniors Jordan Wells, Taihuannia Woodard and Taylor Jones.

“I liked that it was a fun group that let us communicate with a lot of different people about a very good cause,” Woodard said about joining the organization.

The Y-sters stay busy at their school. In addition to preparing for Tobacco Free 24/7, they met with the cafeteria manager to have a station of healthier meal choices for students and faculty. This “grab-and-go” cart has fruit parfaits, apples, bananas, granola bars and more.

The change in diet has some immediate, positive effects for patrons.

“You can go from being slouchy and tired all the time from the sugar and calories to having a better lifestyle,” Jones said.

Y-Street leaders are trained by professionals to present their arguments effectively and to be prepared for follow-up discussions.

“I have a hard time speaking in front of a lot of people, so it’s getting me out of my comfort zone,” Wells said.

Woodard had similar troubles when speaking with school administrators for the first time.

“I was a little nervous talking to our administration, but after you get over that nervousness, it’s a pretty calm environment,” he said. “Once we explained what we were trying to do, they were really excited for us, and it made talking to them a lot easier.”

They’ll have opportunities to give presentations on campaign topics and present key campaign findings at local, state and national conferences. The best Y-Sters will have an opportunity to meet with members of the School Board and City Council and other local and state government officials.

“They’re not just students anymore,” said Candace Credle, marketing teacher and one of the Y-Street co-advisers, along with Michele Duncan. “They’re well-rounded individuals that will be able to maintain college schedules, land a good job and do what they need to do in life to succeed.”