CAMP ZAMA, Japan – Two teens here joined a panel made up of others their age from Army garrisons worldwide and attended an event where they discussed the top issues facing their unique demographic.
Anya Price and Aaliya Ismail, both students at Zama Middle High School, were in Massachusetts June 22 through 30 to attend the annual Youth Leadership Forum as members of the Army Teen Panel, which serves as the “voice of Army youth” for senior leaders and adult staff.
Each year during the forum, the panel is invited there to brief top Army leaders. Prior to the event, the panel members first met to discuss several issues that affect their respective regions before narrowing them down to the top three topics they would bring to the forum.
After deciding on the issues of transportation, mental health, and marketing Army youth centers, the panel discussed possible solutions for each as they prepared to brief U.S. Army Garrison Fort Detrick Commander Col. Ned Marsh and Suzanne King, U. S. Army Installation Management Command G9 Child Youth Services chief, June 29 at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston.
Price, a senior at ZMHS, said she enjoyed the opportunity to meet and work with others her age who are invested in making positive changes in their respective communities and said it was enlightening getting to learn about the various issues affecting Army teens worldwide.
“It was very interesting to get perspectives from the other Army teens from different cultures and places,” Price said. “It helped open up my own perspective to what other issues could be occurring that I hadn’t realized beforehand.”
Price said the most beneficial part of the experience at the forum was briefing the leadership because it was fulfilling getting to show all the work she and the other panel members had put in throughout the week.
“I got positive feedback from many adults on how I presented myself throughout the brief,” Price said. “I think I did pretty well throughout the event.”
Ismail, a junior at ZMHS, said being part of the panel and attending the forum helped her improve her public speaking and learn to more effectively work with others in her age group. It was also a privilege to be able to represent her installation, and to raise issues she and other teens in her community face.
“It was an interesting experience to see what other installations and mine have in common regarding those issues,” Ismail said. “It was so much fun to meet the other Army teens, especially ones from other countries.”
Fathima Ismail, the assistant director for the Camp Zama Youth Center, accompanied the two teens to the forum. She said both teens did an awesome job learning leadership and life skills, career exploration, peer-to-peer communication, resiliency training, and briefing techniques.
Now that the panel members have returned home, they will each prepare to brief their installations’ respective garrison commanders and youth center staff on the issues brought up at the forum in hopes of securing the necessary funding and resources to help address them, Price said.