We Can Do This

We can do this. We have the tools, but it will take young people, like those on the Youth Advocacy Council, to fill the void.

By: Chase Howard | March 2024

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Dear Readers,

My name is Chase Howard. I’m a 17-year-old student from Palisades High School in Charlotte.

I am many things. I’m a Charlotte Hornets fan (even though it can be painful at times), an avid player of the video game Destiny 2, and a lover of all kinds of music. I have a special place in my heart for Hip-Hop; if you ever see me in public, I’m either meditating on the clever and creative bars of MF DOOM, escaping to the soundscapes created by Tyler the Creator, or motivating myself off the inspiring words of Kendrick Lamar.

I am many things, but the titles that bring me the most pride are student leader and advocate.

I have never been afraid to ask the hard questions and push the envelope on the issues facing youth. Since my freshman year, I have been involved in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Youth Council (CYMC), a group of dedicated students from the greater Charlotte Area who work with local, state, and federal officials to create the changes our communities need. I have been active with CMYC since my freshman year, in which I currently serve as co-president. I have worked tirelessly to improve students’ mental health resources, educate on the importance of emotional intelligence and help create new policies that help lessen the mental burden of school.

With that being said, I’m sure you all could imagine the glee I had when I was chosen to join NC Child’s Youth Advocacy Council (YAC).

In January, our 16-member Council had its first meeting in which we were able to come together and start strategizing how we will help create a better future for the children of North Carolina. At that meeting, I was elected President. What excites me most about being part of the YAC is the opportunity to work with other passionate young people and speak with children, leaders, and representatives across the state to address youth mental health and create the change our state needs.

I believe mental health is by far the biggest issue facing the youth today, especially as we see the continued growth of depression and suicide. What hurts me most is seeing increases in suicide rates among middle school-aged children. In a post-pandemic world, children and youth are experiencing a void of loneliness, confusion, and discontent. We must seek to fill this void with purpose, emotional stability, support, and mental health resources.

We can do this. We have the tools, but it takes young people like those assembled on NC Child’s Youth Advocacy Council to raise our voices, be advocates for our friends and communities, and work with leaders to fill that void.

I couldn’t be more excited for what the Youth Advocacy Council will achieve in our communities and across the state this year.