Youth Leader Reflections on PedsCount! 2018
Advocacy and the power of individuals come in many different forms. When I attended the PedsCount! Summit in San Jose this year, I did not expect to hear so many inspirational speakers and stories throughout the panels and sessions. It opened my eyes to how people and groups from all over the state and country use different strategies to achieve a wide ranging set of interconnected goals. I went to this summit set on just giving a simple presentation, and I came home with an abundance of new knowledge of advocacy.
Alongside two of my Greenfield peers and speakers from separate organizations, I shared my experiences in campaigning for safe school routes. What I spoke about was our group’s accomplishments on positively changing the conditions in Greenfield parks and our upcoming plans to increase safety and walkability in our community. Coming from my local work, I did not think there was much more to safety than improving infrastructure and making changes to the environment for people to walk or enjoy themselves. But over the course of the summit, I learned from various organizations who do work similar to Greenfield Walking Group that there is much more to safety than infrastructure improvements. For example, I was inspired by speakers like Elise Roy, who shared her story as a deaf woman fighting for design and service reform for disabled individuals. Topics such as these are ones I never really put thought into, and I am glad I had the opportunity to be educated on the struggles of people with disabilities. Along with this presentation, I learned about how senior citizens face obstacles as pedestrians, the extensive history of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, and how housing and mobility are all tied together.
I learned so much more than I was expecting and took away valuable insight, which was definitely better than hearing more about everything I already know. From this summit, the biggest takeaway was that there are always new things to learn about advocacy and solving the issues we see in our community. With this fresh information in mind, I also hope to bring new advocacy methods to my community. I’d like to think through how our group can implement more inclusive strategies in our community planning and work, and to address the needs described by Elise Roy and the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe. I know there are individuals in our community who would benefit from more inclusive outreach and community planning. I am grateful I was given the chance to attend and present at this scholarly program and look forward to implementing the strategies and knowledge from this summit.