a civil society alliance for combatting chronic disease in the caribbean

Healthy Caribbean Coalition - Leighla Waterman - My Experience at the NCD Child Conference

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Leighla Waterman of Bishops Anstey High School TT & President's Youth Ambassador recalls her experience at the recent NCD Child Conference

LeighlaAs a teenager, I can confess that at times, I feel invincible. It is perhaps due to this occasional sensation of invincibility that I, along with most other adolescents, sometimes disregard the admonitions of our elders. One of the most typical counsels we receive, is that we should make healthier lifestyle choices and mind what we eat and how much of it we consume. We are also often advised to get up and get outside; to be active and participate in physical activity in order to develop more beneficial lifestyle habits. However, this advice is often disregarded among adolescents nowadays.

In my opinion, this is in part due to our misperception that the lifestyle choices we make as teenagers could in no way affect our adult lives. Additionally, I believe that a large culprit for this epidemic of bad lifestyle choices among youth is a lack of education and general misinformation. That is why I found the NCD Child conference so very enlightening. As an adolescent, I can attest that non communicable diseases do not even seem like a possibility, much less a direct consequence of my current actions. It is only after my experience at the conference that I realized just how important it is to make my day to day lifestyle decisions with my long term health and well-being in mind.

I found that throughout the entire conference, each speakers most transcendent contribution was not simply the general information they put forth, but rather their wise words and personal opinions on the topic. For example, in the beginning of the conference, during his address the Chancellor of the University of the West Indies quotes Dr. Eric Eustace William’s most famous remark, that “the future of our nation lies in our children’s’ school bags,” and adds in that, “the future of our nation’s children also lies in their lunch kits.”

Her Excellency, Ms. Carmona remarks that, “the revolution must begin in our kitchens.” She urged the audience that, “We have given [our children] life; let’s make sure they can live it to the fullest without the threat of disease robbing them of its quality later on.” These words really stood out to me because it was nice to see that the well-being of adolescents was not only on a political agenda, but also on a personal one for many of the nation’s leaders and important persons.

Throughout the rest of the conference, I was continually amazed by well delivered speeches, impressive rhetoric and shocking statistics. Overall, I found the message being sent and the information being put across by each presenter was enlightening in its own way. I am so very grateful to have been granted the opportunity to attend this conference, and I sincerely hope that others received as much from it in the way of education and general edification as I did.

Leighla WatermanLeighla Waterman of Bishops Anstey High School TT & President's Youth Ambassador, shares thoughts on the NCD Child meeting.

Have a listen to this bright future leader.