Madison La Follette High School sophomore part of national youth group documenting COVID-19 experience

Scott Girard:

A La Follette High School sophomore is one of 22 high school students around the United States documenting her COVID-19 experience and trying to connect youth in the community with resources they need.

Lilyana Sims began working with the Mikva Challenge, a nonprofit organization focused on uplifting youth voice, about three-and-a-half years ago. Organizers contacted her about being part of the new National Youth Response Movement team in March, and after looking at who else had been invited, she knew she was going to take part.

“I was very in awe of the other people they had chosen because it’s a bunch of really powerful, intelligent students around the United States,” she said. “I was like, ‘Woh, this is where I want to be.’”

Over the last four weeks, Lilyana said, the group has developed three priority issues for its work: access to education, access to mental health and health care, and helping to create a sense of community in their neighborhoods while following public health guidelines. For now, they’re using hashtags like #GetupSpeakUp and #MikvaQuaranteenChallenge to connect with other teens beyond the group’s members.

A press release from the Mikva Foundation announcing the group’s creation states the council will “elevate youth voice and inform policy decisions during the COVID-19 outbreak.”