Story By– Madelyn Stewart, Youth Ambassador, Mentor Foundation USA

9 July 2015 | News

For nearly 25 years, Idaho Drug Free Youth (iDFY) has been bringing teens together every summer at their annualIdaho Youth Summit. This four-day teen conference, hosted at Camp Lutherhaven on the beautiful Coeur d’Alene Lake, is all about connections. It is iDFY’s philosophy that positive connections between students and their communities leads to substance abuse prevention, which is why they host three teen conferences each year throughout the state of Idaho. Idaho Youth Summit, the largest of iDFY’s events, features facilitation from outside parties to empower friendliness, positivity, self-confidence, community activism, and many other important parts of a happy, healthy life.This year, Mentor Foundation USA brought its Shattering the Myths youth rally all the way to Idaho where their own Joseph Green was invited to be a keynote speaker at the Idaho Youth Summit. The impact it had on iDFY’s students was well worth the journey and Mentor Foundation USA is looking forward to its continued collaboration with iDFY. Through a poetry writing workshop on one sunny June morning, and a poetry slam following that evening, Joseph and his fellow poets opened iDFY’s eyes to the impact of the spoken word. Poetry is therapeutic in so many ways, as Joseph explained to the participants.

“Poetry allows you to be honest with yourself,” said Darby, one of iDFY’s students, after the workshop day. Not only does spoken words allow you to hear other people’s stories, it allows you to share your own in a safe environment. The poetry slam that Shattering the Myths hosted at Idaho Youth Summit brought many teenagers to the stage to share their stories with their peers. I approached one young poet, Kaitlyn, after her performance to ask how she felt sharing her story for the first time. “It’s nice to get that out and know that other people can relate to my story,” Kaitlyn told me.

That is exactly what it’s all about at Idaho Youth Summit: connections. Shattering the Myths allowed iDFY’s students to not only share life-changing testimony, but to communicate and reld creative ways. Another student I spoke to, Mason, said he learned that “everyone has a story,” and that “we can learn from them and make the best of what has happened and what is to come.”

The icing on top of this cake was hearing a spoken word poem from Joseph himself, who kicked off our poetry slam by sharing a piece he wrote about his life before Mentor Foundation. “Truth is seldom pretty, but she is always beautiful,” he stated in his performance, reminding us that media, television, and music often portray misconceptions about the dangers of substance abuse. When I spoke to Joseph for a comment after the poetry slam, he said, “It is my honor to share a little bit of what saved my life with the iDFY participants. I hope this message is taken back to their communities, and that we can be one step closer to making the world a better place.”


Highlights from the iDFY Youth Summit 2015, where Mentor Foundation USA was proud to present Shattering the Myths. Check out the youth poets around the 3min point!


Madelyn Stewart, from Idaho, is part of Mentor Foundation’s new national Youth Ambassador Network. Our youth ambassadors help us carry out our mission of equipping young people with the tools to become their own advocates against substance abuse.

In the spirit of this mission, Youth Ambassador Madelyn Stewart, of Idaho, was asked to write a few articles exploring substance abuse amongst youth in her community and attempt to expose some of the key factors that contribute to this behavior. Madelyn’s first article highlighted the struggles and recovery of one her close friends. Her second article sought to explore more closely the role of drug use advertisement aimed at teens.  This month Madelyn went on location as The Mentor Foundation USA toke its Shattering the Myths youth rally on the road to Idaho for the for the IDFY Youth Leadership Summit.

We are grateful for Madelyn’s dedication and hard work and hope that you will find her insights valuable and enlightening. If you know of young person that would be perfect for our Youth Ambassador Network please have them send an email to [email protected].