Youth from across the state joined a virtual town hall with medical professionals to engage with peers about COVID-19 Monday afternoon.
The town hall was led by student leaders from Minnesota Future Farmers of America (FFA) and Minnesota Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) Future Medical Professionals to give students an opportunity to discuss how the pandemic has impacted their school experience, how they can have a safe and meaningful school year and what actions youth can take to curb the spread.
“We desperately want a return to normalcy but that isn’t going to just happen – we have to do the work,” FFA member Wyatt Halvorson said. “Students have the power to protect our classrooms, our activities and our lives from being further disrupted by the virus, but to do that we must come together, share information, get questions answered by people we trust and create our own plans. That’s why we’re holding this town hall.”
“As a future health professional, it's frustrating to hear about what our health care providers have had to endure these past years,” HOSA Officer Advisor Lauren Trygstad said. “But it also further reinforces my career aspirations because we desperately need health care workers, as they have been the heart and soul of our nation these past two years.”
The event was emceed by Trygstad and Wyatt Halvorson of FFA. Anna Ridenour (FFA) and Sivaani Anandkumar (HOSA) also participated. Dr. Andrea Singh of Park Nicollet, Dr. Stacene Marousheck of Hennepin County Medical Center and Dr. Matt Haugen of Sanford Health also participated in the town hall.
“Young people have been profoundly impacted by this pandemic, and now they're playing an active role and doing their part to curb the spread,” Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcom said. “This event was just an example of the powerful role students are playing to end this pandemic, not just in their schools but in their communities as well. We applaud them and we are grateful for their efforts.”
This town hall is part of the Minnesota Department of Health’s larger Community Conversation effort.
The objective of the program is to support organizations around the state from youth groups to food banks to churches as they host forums with local medical professionals to educate their communities on the COVID-19 virus and the vaccines.
“I was really impressed by the thoughtful questions asked by students,” Haugen said. “You can tell they are eager to learn not just for their own knowledge but also so they can turn around and share that information with their families and friends. It’s conversations like these that are really going to move the needle in our efforts to get more people vaccinated.”
The event was recorded and is available for viewing at: Recording: FFA and HOSA Host CTSOs and Health Experts.