A Weekend of Passion and Purpose!

By Gillian Johnson (2022 Call For Kindness Fellow)

The Riley’s Way Youth Leadership Retreat was transformative! This year’s theme was The Mic Drop: Listen + Amplify with Empathy. I felt honored to be included in that message as a workshop leader since I value the power of rhetoric and speech in change making so much, especially in the philosophy behind Recovery Meet-Ups, which is an organization I started to help normalize disordered eating recovery for teens through dialogue and social justice initiatives. Riley’s Way deeply understands what the power of advocacy and using one’s voice to spark change means, especially in the context of youth leadership in the modern world. From including amazing students during the planning process, to providing participants with the fulfilling opportunity to learn from and connect with leaders, authors, speakers, and role models. I especially loved the insight I was able to gain from two panelists, Anya Dillard, who is an activist and founder of The Next Gen Come Up, and Ava Mateo, the Executive Director of 18byVote. Anya discussed the three different types of power that young social entrepreneurs and changemakers need to harness as they move into a new space: the power of knowledge, people power, and fiscal power. Ava defined civic engagement for us and allowed participants to expand on that definition to contribute more to their communities electorally. I loved learning interdisciplinary skills from the specific panelists above and all the fascinating speakers and workshops I was able to attend, all of which will allow me to apply said skills to my personal life and my organization, Recovery Meet-Ups. We plan to engage with local politics and academics on a greater scale through interviews and social media collabs, as well as expand our ambassadorship positions to represent a broader and more diverse range of experiences in RMs.  It was so inspiring and supportive to be able to connect with the many other Retreat participants who are passionate social or environmental justice leaders in their own communities. If you care about expanding the conversation surrounding disordered eating, empowering yourself and others through intersectional dialogue about body image, beauty standards, healthcare access, and more, join Recovery Meet-Ups! We currently have teen positions available for Public Policy Researchers, Meet-Up Mentorships, and Participants or you can always follow the conversation on Instagram at @recoverymeetups!