Teens at NH youth summit take on topics like bullying, mental health

Published: Apr. 5, 2019 at 12:03 PM EDT
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A two-day summit hosted by the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center aims to give a voice to today's youth and the issues they face every single day.

In a conference room filled kids, students addressed difficult topics.

"You are either doing it too right or too wrong or you're too skinny or too fat. And, honestly, there are a lot of pressures mentally that you have to deal with and a lot of pressures for success and it is very difficult sometimes and gets very stressful," said Emily Galeva of Lebanon High School.

Nearly 350 high school students from across New Hampshire shared thoughts about the challenges they face in the 21st century, like drugs, social media and school violence.

Organizers say they are all health issues that have a ripple effect throughout society.

"So we want to be part of those solutions by learning from the adolescents themselves, the teens. What are the tough issues that are affecting them today and how can adults help them get to the solutions?" said Keith Loud of the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth.

"Head on the road that could potentially fix, not fix completely, but help the issues that we have been talking about," said Zach Thompson of Canaan, New Hampshire.

The keynote speaker was Norwich Olympian and former Hanover High School student Hannah Kearney. The mogul skier won gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics but had to settle for the bronze four years later.

"The best way I learned to deal with pressure is by failing, realizing that life goes on and that, in turn, removes some of the pressure," Kearney said.

The room gives the kids a safe environment to acknowledge the pressures exist, and to look at different ways to deal with them.

"It really makes kids think that they are making a change which will encourage them in the future to do more things like that and reach out, and branch out and talk about the issues that they are going through," Galeva said.

The summit continues Saturday when parents across the region are invited to join the discussion. But more importantly, according to the experts, to listen and learn from the kids.