Pass the Mic Series: Health & Well-Being

By: Kiara, a senior in High School


  • Youth-Nex recently hosted their 8th conference entitled Pass the Mic: Amplifying Youth Voice & Agency, co-chaired by Drs. Wintre Foxworth Johnson and Nancy Deutsch.
  • In this Pass the Mic blog series, we are highlighting each of the sessions from the conference, sharing videos, and uplifting youth voices to summarize and reflect on what was discussed.
  • Kiara (a senior in High School, youth panelist and conference attendee) summarizes and reflects on the fourth session about “Health & Well-Being.”
Source: Youth-Nex

As a High School student athlete who wants to pursue a health career, I know learning about health and well-being is essential. I truly enjoyed this panel discussion and the knowledge I obtained from these health professionals.

I felt so much inspiration when hearing from the youth about how they feel they can advocate for not only themselves but their families as well. Some of these aspects to advocate on is related to health and wellness systems, but also things like food, desserts or even being comfortable in the environment they live in.

Hearing the panelists’ ideas about having mental health professionals in schools to be able to speak with students about the things they may be experiencing in their communities was something I completely agree with.

Giving youth the opportunity to speak to someone about the things that they see everyday could be the first step to healing childhood trauma (that they would have to tackle one day in their adulthood).

I also enjoyed learning that different cultural backgrounds can have different health and well-being standards based on the history and traditions that are aligned. I definitely was able to learn different aspects of what health and well-being is, whether it is mental health resources or family resources, which truly resonated with me.

Source: Youth-Nex

Did you miss one of our six sessions from the Pass the Mic: Amplifying Youth Voice & Agency conference? Go back and watch these panels with youth voices, and read the summaries, primarily written by the youth participants, on the following topics:

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please email Please visit the Youth-Nex Homepage for up to date information about the work happening at the center.

Author Bio: Kiara A. is a senior at An Achievable Dream High School in Newport News, VA where she has been in the top 10% of her class all 4 years. She is currently ranked 4th in her school graduation class of 2023. Kiara currently serves her school as An Achievable Dream HS Senior Class President and President of the An Achievable Dream Middle and High School National Honor Society. Kiara is also a member of NNPS Emerging Leader Institute, Newport News Mayors Youth Commission, An Achievable Dream HS 3.0 Club, An Achievable Dream HS Principal’s Advisory Board, SCA, NNPS Flourish Youth Empowerment Club, Heritage HS Girls Varsity Volleyball team, Captain of the Heritage HS Girls Varsity Tennis team, CNU Community Captains, National Society of High School Scholars and Hampton University Upward Bound. Kiara has participated in various panels representing her school system Newport News Public Schools and her Newport News community. She has served as a student panelist on the Aim for Impact Summer Leadership Institute and the NNPS Innovate Conference, both sponsored through Newport News Public Schools. In addition, she recently participated in a local community panel sponsored by WHRO Public Media and iHeart Radio for a community conversation on safety and school security in September 2022, which was televised locally. Kiara plans to attend college where she will be majoring in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science, where she aspires to be an athletic trainer for the NFL or a major league sports franchise.

Youth Voices in YPAR

This post is the 3rd publication in a YPAR series, which aims to explain participatory research, youth-led measurement and evaluation approaches, and strategies for youth-adult collaborations in YPAR.

By: Mykei & Angel, 11th graders


  • Previous posts in the YPAR Series explained what participatory research processes are, and why youth should be engaged in research.
  • This post showcases two high school students who are engaged in YPAR, and currently designing research projects.
  • Mykei and Angel talk about what they learned in YPAR and how it has helped them.
Learn more about one of last year’s YAL YPAR projects, led by LMA students, through this award-winning documentary.

Starting in 2021, Lugo-McGinness Academy (LMA) and Youth-Nex’s Youth Action Lab (YAL) partnered to introduce students to youth participatory action research (YPAR). YPAR is a research approach that engages young people in identifying problems relevant to their own lives, conducting research to understand the nature of their problems, and using findings to advocate for change.

LMA classroom teachers and Youth Action Lab team members co-facilitate YPAR projects to support student leadership and uplift student voices in a school setting. The current YAL facilitators, Dr. Jessica Forrester (a postdoctoral researcher) and Olivia Burke (a grad student), sat down with two students from LMA to ask about their experiences in YPAR.

Question: Tell me about the current YPAR project you’re working on.

  • Mykei: I am working on creating interview questions on what sparks adults’ career interests and why they went into that field of work. I just want to see what people say, to be honest, like what their different experiences are. So far, I have interviewed my history teacher, Mr. K. He told me that he went to law school but realized teaching was his calling. I am excited to interview Mr. K’s father-in-law who is a nurse.
  • Angel: The overall question of my project is “Do high school students have enough resources for jobs, and internships after completing high school?”. My current project started off as research looking into career-based classes. It then led to looking into internships for high school students, in- and out-of-school. I have now expanded my project into a focus group for 11th and 12th graders; asking for their opinions on what kind of internships they wish they had and if they feel that high school successfully set them up for success in their career choice. The focus group will be recorded and sent out to businesses that are open to interns so that they may use the data to edit intern interview questions for high school students. During the focus group, we will give the students information on businesses open to internships.

Question: What have you learned while working with Youth Action Lab and YPAR?

  • Mykei: What sparks people’s interests. I also learned how to word questions to get a better response from the people I interviewed. I also learned a lot about the research process, like what to look for on the internet, especially when I was searching for different people in the community to interview.

Question: In what ways has your YPAR project been helpful for you and your future?

  • Angel: It has benefited my mentality. I now feel a need to strongly take initiative towards my future, while using the skills my project has taught me; such as reaching out when help is needed, looking into resources in my community, and looking closer at the people around me who could possibly bestow more knowledge upon me.

Question: What do you want to do after high school?

  • Mykei: I want to become a traveling nurse. They make a lot of money and it seems really fun. My aunt, grandma, and mom were all nurses. They all loved it. My grandma was a nurse for 40 years. I take care of my mom and little brother, so I am used to taking care of people.
  • Angel: After high school, I will continue my nursing program until it is time for me to head off to college. While in college I plan on majoring in Chemistry or Biology while doing nursing on the side so that I still have an income. Hopefully studying abroad at some point, and after many years of school, achieve my dreams of becoming an anesthesiologist.

Missed a post in the YPAR series? Check out all the tips and resources:

  1. The Benefits of Engaging in Participatory Approaches to Research
  2. Why Young Investigators Are Important
  3. Youth Voices in YPAR (includes youth)
  4. Strategies for the YPAR Collaboration Process (includes downloadable resources)
  5. How Can Youth Voice Amplify Research? Listening & Leadership Are Key
  6. 4 Universal Facilitation Tips for YPAR Collaboration
  7. Asset & Power Mapping as Tools for Youth-Led Research (includes downloadable resources)
  8. Why YPAR Matters: Youth Are “Looking at the World Differently” (includes youth)

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please email Please visit the Youth-Nex Homepage for up to date information about the work happening at the center.

Author Bio: Mykei is an eleventh-grade student at Lugo-McGinness Academy and is joining the YPAR team for the second year in a row. In addition to YPAR, Mykei works part-time at a local business and has caretaking responsibilities for his younger sibling. Mykei’s education research interests are rooted in his commitment to education. In particular, he wants to increase the variety of class options for LMA students, such as advanced placement, career, and technical opportunities.

Author Bio: Angel is an eleventh-grade student and one of the YPAR team’s newest members. Angel is interested in transforming school classes to focus on students’ strengths in order to build their confidence. In addition to making a difference in educational spaces, Angel wants to shine light on business opportunities for high schoolers because of her own entrepreneurial spirit.