Camryn Sutton ’22
wanted to better understand the inner workings of local government, so when the opportunity to apply to the Chesterfield Youth Citizen Board
arose, she jumped at the chance. The restrictions of COVID have not stopped Camryn’s experience, and she is excited about the continuity of the two-year term.
The Youth Citizen Board (YCB) was formed in 1978 by the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors. The purpose of the YCB is to advise the Board of Supervisors regarding issues relating to youth and to provide opportunities for community input on youth issues in Chesterfield County.
“I wanted the opportunity to talk with adults and share the adolescent perspective with them as decision-makers,” said Sutton. The YCB began work in August and meets monthly.
The group has focused on mental health for youth, a topic that is important to Sutton. “I am interested in psychology for middle school adolescents,” she said. “I have been seeking leadership roles and wanting to support my community, even more during the pandemic.” The group provides resources for youth as well as parents primarily utilizing social media. “As a group, we are creating a campaign to post on Instagram
, and we are using TikTok to share videos on managing stress.” The campaign is called Mental Health is a Puzzle, and the posts will begin rolling out this month.
Sutton appreciates the impact of even a seemingly small social media post. “Social media posts can make you feel the support that surrounds you,” she said. “Knowing that I can help someone else even just by small actions is inspiring.” Sutton said that having the opportunity to hear from mental health experts as well as the government officials with whom they work has deepened her understanding of the importance of this work: “We had a guest speaker come and share statistics and what depression and anxiety are and how you can support someone experiencing these challenges, which unfortunately have grown during the pandemic.”
Although the group has met fully virtually, Sutton has still felt a strong connection to other members of the YCB. “It has been difficult and meaningful to hear people sharing what they are dealing with and hearing their pain but also being able to support them,” she said. “It has also been impactful to have adults share challenges they have experienced with us and to see what they have overcome.”
Sutton credits Trinity with helping prepare her for how to engage confidently with adults as a part of the YCB. “I have the confidence to talk to adults and I also trust that they will listen to me,” she said. “For this project, the adults are looking to us to lead and guide them.” Sutton hopes to translate her knowledge and experiences to Trinity and share with the community.
Sutton has been surprised by how much she has enjoyed creating and the freedom afforded in creating the social media resources. She has also surprised herself with her own sharing in the group. “Being able to share my own experiences with the group and having people understand has been special,” she said.I want everyone to know that they are not alone in dealing with things and there is always someone out there who you can talk to.”
Sutton has learned that even a seemingly small gesture can have a major impact on someone in need. She is eager to apply her knowledge and experience to another year on the YCB and to exploring a lifetime of learning and supporting those around her.
To learn more about the Mental Health is a Puzzle campaign resources that Sutton helped create, please visit: