Growing up, I was that shy kid who kept to myself and was terrified to speak in front of the class during presentations or to introduce myself. I used to think that I didn’t matter or my voice couldn’t be heard. But after attending the Futures for Children Youth Leadership Summit in ABQ, New Mexico I learned to break out of my shell, talk more, and find my voice. I had the opportunity to talk with other youth around my age, learn about other cultures besides my own, make new friends, and gain the knowledge on how to become a leader. By listening to the different Native American guest speakers, participating in the workshops, and getting involved, I found that we as native youth did matter, had our own voices, and have the power to make a difference. Seeing all of the problems that go on in my tribe, I want to get my voice heard, along with other youth to help make a change in our communities for the better. If it wasn’t for the support and guidance from the staff of the Futures for Children organization, I would probably still be that shy kid who was afraid to get involved and break out of his comfort zone.
-Roger Beyal (Navajo), age 19, is from Brimhall, NM and is passionate about being a voice for Native youth, and teaching others about his culture and traditions.