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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 going home.

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 picture taken. 

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.

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