Hi everyone! I’m Lindsey Lovitt, the founder and Executive Director of the Heartfelt Health Teen Council. Growing up in a family centered so fully around the importance of service, I was given the opportunity to work as a leader in my community at a very young age. My mother started her nonprofit about seven years ago, and of course, being only 11 years old, I was dragged along to every single class and every single service event she hosted. However reluctant I was at first to have to spend my weekends teaching healthy cooking classes rather than hanging out with my friends, I began to truly see the impact I was making in others’ lives and the impact that service was beginning to have on my own life. When I was in middle school, I looked up to the high school volunteers who seemed to work so effortlessly with children and I realized that the high school students were the ones who carried the greatest capacity for change.
          The power for teenagers to directly impact issues that affect our generation is astounding. Yet, look to any major organization focused on children’s health awareness and you will be hard-pressed to find any youth organizers on the board of directors. Yet teenagers have a special way of communicating and captivating the attention of younger children. So it seemed evident to me that having a group fully dedicated to harnassing the power of teenagers would be able to make a significant difference. Thus, the council was born.
          I have enjoyed every minute of leading the teen council (even the 10 hour days spent setting up, hosting, and cleaning up a major event). From the healthy food pantry wherein we were able to collect over 500 pounds of healthy food items to the Food Truck Music Festival where I was able to share my love of performance with my community for the cause of fundraising for type 1 diabetes, each event that the Teen Council organizes excites me. Even more interesting to me is the collaboration between council members and the new ideas and innovations that each student holds. It is amazing to see the diversity inherent within the council and to be able to be a part of such an important organization of teens helping other teens.
          I want to thank each council member for contributing so much to the betterment of not only this organization but also the community. Without you, none of this would be possible. I’d also like to thank the Greater Enrichment Program for working with us over so many years. I cannot begin to express how much I have grown as a result of being able to share my passion for science with your students. I, of course, would like to thank Mayor Roberts for taking time out of your schedule to be here today and present us with these awards. I want to give a special shoutout to Caroline, Mario, Lauren, Cailin, and Philicia for dedicating yourselves so fully to this organization’s mission. Your commitment is so strongly appreciated. And to my sister, who inspires me by helping other kids in the community when she must also manage her own health on a daily basis.
          As I move on to college next year, I hope to continue to support the Teen Council which will be carried on by our younger members who share our passion for science and service to the community. I think this is such an important cause and I know we can make a monumental difference together. Thank you to the Presidential Volunteer Service Organization for providing us with these awards and the ability to commend the volunteers who truly commit themselves to the betterment of the community.  

(Given at the President's Award Ceremony on December 8, 2016)

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