George Washington lacrosse junior MacKenzie Jones was recently offered the unique opportunity to speak at a Health Communication Capacity Collaborative forum on the topic of helping to create healthy and informed lifestyle choices for future generations.
An international affairs major who is concentrating in international development and global and public health, Jones has become proficient on sexual reproductive health and youth education through her work with Grassroots Colonials, an organization which seeks to bring HIV/AIDS education and awareness to at-risk middle schools across Washington, D.C.
During the forum on Wednesday - Urban Youth Today: Fueling our World, and the Generations of Tomorrow - Jones addressed a group of 50-60 attendees from Non-Governmental Organizations (or NGOs), and also sat on a question and answer panel.
"I was the youngest person to speak so I was a little nervous at first, but I did an icebreaker game just like I do with Grassroots kids and everyone loved it," Jones said. "I spoke a lot about the stigma of HIV and AIDS and how that often deters people from getting tested and prevents them from seeking free treatment. I also explained my roll with Grassroots and how we effectively use college athletes to reach out to young kids in urban settings."
While Jones served as a panelist at the event, she also learned a great deal from her fellow speakers.
"I learned so much about HIV and AIDS programming," said Jones. "I also got to see things from a different perspective while listening to international experiences as I am coming from the domestic perspective. It was a wonderful experience and I am honored to have been selected to attend."
Jones has continued her work with Grassroots this year as the Colonials' Communications Coordinator. She also helps out at Howard with the Grassroots Bison program one-to-two times per week to help run training sessions for new members.