Teen Talks at
NPF Conference 2K2!
By Louis Sommo
posted October 2002
Hello psoriatic youth of the
nation! My name Is Louis Sommo. I am here with your report on the
National Psoriasis Foundation Conference 2002 Youth Track.
First off, I should tell you
all a little bit about myself. I am 16 years old, and I have had
Psoriasis since I was 4. That’s 12 years that I’ve been fighting the
good fight for myself, and people like me. I had never met anyone even
remotely close to my age with Psoriasis until August 9th.
My weekend started that Friday
at 3 o’clock in the morning, which is when I had to wake up to catch
my flight. Anyway, skipping ahead to the conference. The Welcome Session
started at 7:30 PM. We played some games, and got a general idea of what
the weekend was going to be like. Then, we met up with parents for
dinner, heard some guest speakers (including "The Beave,"
Jerry Mathers), and saw some exhibits from companies also fighting the
good fight. I got an autographed picture of Mathers for my dad, and had
my picture taken with him.
The real fun for the kids
started on Saturday. We started the day pretty much like the night
before. I got to know some new people (shout out to Eric, Amy,
Alex, Tyler, Addy, and Brittany the Southern Belle).
We then split up into different
age groups, and went to … SEA WORLD! First order of business was to go
on Kraken, the biggest and fastest coaster I’ve ever been on. Only
Eric, Brittany and I were brave enough to tame the beast. Afterwards, I
needed a drink, and about 10 minutes to slow my heart rate down. We saw
some of the animals, and I got to pet the dolphins!
The polar bear was asleep,
though. Eric, Amy, Alex, and I sat in the front row for the Shamu Show!
We got soaked, and I LOVED it. We didn’t have much time left until we
had to meet the adults for the "Mystery Dinner." The dinner
seemed to be meant more for the adults than the kids. My friends and I
ended up hanging out outside the show, using up the pictures we had left
in the disposable cameras that the NPF GAVE us. After the "Mystery
Dinner," everybody went back to the hotel. Eric, Brittany,
Amy, Tyler, and I stayed up until 1 o’clock
in the morning talking because it was our last day and everyone would be
Sunday was just for hanging out
and exchanging contact information so we could keep in touch after the
conference. We took a few group photos, first of the teens being
serious, and then being goofy (my favorite). Then, the younger crowd had
their pictures taken. After that, the entire Youth Track had their
After the pictures, I got to
meet Ed Dewke, one of the speakers at the conference. I’ve been
speaking to Ed online since I was 11 years old. I got a signed copy of
his book Flake: Confessions of a Psoriatic.
I caught everyone on their way
out to say goodbye and "hope to see you again." We all want to
come back to the NPF Conference next year. Maybe NPF will let US run the
"Youth Track." After all, who better to run a youth group than
a group of youths?
I can’t end this article
without thanking The NPF, and more specifically Andy Hensch for
arranging the whole Youth Track program. Their efforts this year were
outstanding, and I look forward to seeing everyone again next year.