Podcast Transcript: Advocacy and Opportunity


Colorado state flag.NCFY: Welcome to Youth Speak Out, a podcast series from the Family and Youth Services Bureau. Gina Odom is a Youth Advocate for runaway and homeless youth issues in Garfield County, Colorado. She speaks at statewide meetings, appeared in televised PSAs and recently attended the 2012 Pathways to Adulthood Conference in New Orleans. Odom also recruits other formerly homeless youth and trains them to be advocates. She says the best youth advocates are outgoing young people who want to be part of a team.

GINA ODOM: We look for like leaders, people who can not only be approached and talked to about anything, but also get out the message that we’re all trying to convey. I’m a salesperson, which makes me such a great youth leader because I’m not afraid to come up to people, ask questions and look for things like commitment.

NCFY: Successful advocates also back up their experience with expertise.

GINA: We do monthly conferences. You know, we get together for about an hour and discuss what’s going on with our teams, where we may need to adjust our focus. Sharing information is always the biggest one. I mean, I’m a big believer in communication, just communicating the facts, the info, dispelling myths and things like that are all things that we do to help better ourselves as a group.

We also do the research together. We help figure out what the biggest issues are surrounding our group and what needs to be really improved upon. We focus on meeting the homeless or runaway teens and figuring out the statistics of how many of us are actually out on the streets, and just the community outreach is one of our biggest research tools to really determine what the biggest challenges are. And that’s what helps makes us good leaders is doing all that research and work together and then furthering that by going out to places like New Orleans, reaching out further and further.

NCFY: When planning for a big event or conference, the group tries to balance a unified message with their own individual experiences.

GINA: We are working for a common goal. So when we’re going to the larger conferences and things like that. We fine tune the message as a whole. Like what is the biggest issue in Garfield County that we need to address? Or what is the biggest thing that Garfield County has done that we want to share with others and things like that.

I guess we kind of developed sort of a speech and then whoever is most passionate about a certain aspect can speak about it. I mean, it’s really all about collaborative effort. Because as I said, what effects one of us effects all of us. It’s a really healing and like helpful process to reach out and work with others who have so much potential and yet don't realize it.

NCFY: For more information on youth advocacy, visit the National Clearinghouse on Families & Youth, online at ncfy.acf.hhs.gov.


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