You can just be yourself and help out.“ – Jack
Although just last year Jack describes himself as, “too afraid to talk to people and order food because I’d be too nervous to speak,” Jack currently presides over Novato High’s Friday Night Live (FNL) Chapter in his first year as President.
Jack was a key figure in ensuring that the youth program continued nurturing action-oriented leaders in his school this year. Last year, the program’s Spanish speakers went into low-income households to talk to their community about the impact of alcohol on their life. Self-empowerment for community-change to reduce alcohol consumption is what drew Jack and his peers to FNL.
FNL is powered by youth-adult partnerships that create powerful opportunities to encourage and empower young people to become agents of change in their community. Youth leaders identify issues in their community that they aspire to change and they develop the skills necessary to actively participate in that process.
“There are a lot of parties, “ Jack says, “ and if there is alcohol there kids think, “Yeah, I want to have a good time, I want to be like everybody else. I want to be cool. I want to start drinking. I’m going to get drunk.” From the conversations I hear around school, most kids don’t care about the effects of alcohol right now, but I don’t think they truly understand the impact alcohol can have on your body and on your life. “
Jack’s deep aversion to alcohol is deeply rooted in his first-hand experience witnessing the suffering and even death of his relatives through substance abuse. Jack says, “I really hate alcohol and I want to stop it. I know that I can’t stop alcohol completely, but I want to lower consumption and get the message out there that it’s really bad. My dad helped me by making me realize that I don’t want people ending up like family members hurt by alcohol.”
Jack’s personal experiences and FNL involvement have shaped his life goals. “I want to make a difference, I want to make an impact on my community and my school and do something.“
Since joining FNL, Jack has been successful in spreading FNL’s message through the remarkable development of his public speaking skills. Less than a year ago he recalls giving his required sophomore speech on one subject in class while he, “was shaking and stuttering a lot, but now I have no trouble talking in front of a group of people every Wednesday.”
Jack hopes that his leadership development will translate into increased confidence and skills in other areas of his life. Next year, he sees himself assuming more leadership roles and serving his school and community in another capacity, youth council. (YLI-facilitated program, the Marin County Youth Commission?). A future accomplishment of his will be, “speaking out and talking to city councilmembers about Lee Law and FNL’s work.”
Today, Jack feels that, “Presenting in front of people gives me the confidence to talk to anybody. I can really go up to anybody. Now I talk to random people. FNL helps me communicate more with people that I don’t know. It gives me a lot more confidence to talk. That’s a big change.“
Jack defines a youth leader to be, “someone who helps out in the community and helps kids. Someone who tries to make an impact on society, the community that they live in, and other communities.”
Jack aspires to attend college in the future and looks forward to exploring career options. His one constant is, “As I get older, I want to keep helping people in the community. No matter what, I want to keep helping out.”
Read more about Jack’s work in the recent Marin Independent Journal article, Novato teen watchdogs lobby city for curbs on alcohol, tobacco store ads.