Mental Health is Deckard’s focus as youth rep

While saying she was “extremely humbled and honored by being chosen” as a youth representative on Knox County Board of Education for the 2022-23 school year, Hardin Valley Academy rising senior Grace Deckard is especially focused on one critical issue.

“The school issues that concern me most are mental health,” she said. “I want to create more ways to equip people in combating mental health issues and teach them ways to advocate for it in their schools.

“I want to expand last year’s idea of teaching students teen mental health first aid and reach out to more schools to learn about it,” Deckard added.

To achieve that, Deckard thinks she can use her training in mental health and leadership to “implement more ways for people to learn about mental health and create new leaders to advocate for it.”

Meanwhile, “I think the main reason I was chosen was because of God’s grace,” Deckard said. 

To best fulfill her new role, “I would love to connect more with students and try to get their voices heard on topics,” she said. “I feel that many students do not feel like they have a voice in the Board of Education because of their age, but I want to stress the importance of having their voices heard, as well, since they are the main people who will be affected.”

Deckard said she was inspired to apply for the position as a result of a school research project about different classroom performances in Knox County.

“It really opened my eyes to how big and different Knox County is, and it made me want to connect us as a county more,” she said. 

“I also have previous experience in public communication that I can use to reach out to students,” Deckard added.

The rising senior is state president of Mu Alpha Theta, a math honors society; state vice president of Technology Student Association, a STEM organization; and a member of projectU, Active Minds and RoHAWKtics.

Additionally, she is a STEMbassador for her school, vice president of Student Council and a KEEPER ambassador, which is an advocate for mental health.

About being chosen, “When I first applied I thought I had a long shot because I knew so many other great candidates for the job, but I feel extremely blessed that I’ll have this amazing opportunity to serve my community,” said Deckard, daughter of Edward and Victoria Deckard.

“My parents’ were very surprised, excited and proud,” she added. “They wanted to share it with everybody when I found out and told them. They have been my biggest supporters when I strive for any dream.”