Converse College student Melanie Waddell is among a delegation of college students from across South Carolina traveling to Washington, D.C., September 27 – October 1 to participate in the 12th annual Advocates for Youth Urban Retreat, where they will receive comprehensive training on ways to improve sexual health education and programs in our state.
Melanie is a member of the 10-member delegation representing SWARM, South Carolina’s Youth Council for Policy
Change, a team of college students working on their campuses and in the field to advocate on behalf of reproductive
health issues. The Council was established two years ago in partnership with Tell Them, a South Carolina-based
organization dedicated to building an online coalition of advocates to support these issues.
Current Council members include:
- Darian Ames, South Carolina State University
- Nadia Anderson, Columbia College
- Aaron Charleston, Benedict College
- Jordan Craven, University of South Carolina
- Ashley LeConte, South Carolina State University
- Brittany Prince, University of South Carolina
- Emily Rogers, College of Charleston
- Jasmine Stewart, Winthrop University
- Alexus Truluck, Claflin University
- Melanie Waddell, Converse College
“We are thrilled our Council members have been chosen to attend this retreat,” said Emma Davidson, Tell Them
Program Manager. “They will learn important leadership skills that will ultimately shape health policies in South
The four-day event includes 120 students from 20 states and 5 countries who will receive specialized training on
grassroots and campus organizing, online advocacy, media outreach and public speaking. Activists will also conduct
policymaker education visits on Capitol Hill.
“This is an incredible opportunity to learn first-hand how to be a strong advocate,” said Emily Rogers, a senior at the College of Charleston and Council Member currently serving her second year. “We can take that knowledge back to our own communities to impact our efforts with university officials, peer groups, and even legislators.”
According to Tell Them, the Council’s mobilization comes at a critical time for South Carolina’s young people who face some alarming statistics: 3 in 10 young women in our state will get pregnant before age 20. One in five new HIV/AIDS cases reported in South Carolina is among people age 25 and under. And, youth ages 15-24 account for almost half of new sexually transmitted infection cases.
The Council is known on campuses as Students with a Responsible Message (S.W.A.R.M), a name selected to
underscore a core goal of building alliances around an issue.
About Tell Them
Tell Them is a non-profit, non-partisan coalition committed to creating a stronger, healthier South Carolina by
preventing unintended pregnancies, HIV and sexually transmitted infections. We are a program of the New Morning
Foundation, the state’s leading voice on reproductive health policies. Our 10,000 members advocate on behalf of
mainstream positions that emphasize prevention, medical accuracy and science. For information, please visit