Our conferences are a chance for our teen community to come together and hang out real time – outside of the many technology screens that host Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and texting. In this week’s installment of our monthly interview series in commemoration of our 30th anniversary, our intern, Jessica Ford, sits down with David Walters, Teens Take Charge (TTC) member, to talk about TTC, the importance of our biennial conference, and his reflections on the Hydrocephalus Association (HA).
HA: How did you find HA?
DAVID: When I was rather young – around two years old – my parents found HA on the internet. They went to one of the first HA conferences, and they got hooked!
HA: How has HA made an impact on your life?
DAVID: I found many good friends through attending the conferences and I learned quite a bit about hydrocephalus. They have enabled me to take part in Teens Take Charge.
HA: Of the events that you have attended, what is your favorite HA memory?
DAVID: I successfully got ten people from my school to come walk with me as a school in the past HA WALK, the National Capital 5K Run/WALK for Hydrocephalus. Because of my advocacy efforts at my school, they wanted to come out and support me and HA.
HA: In what ways have you gotten involved in TTC?
DAVID: I did a blog for TTC (“Voices from Our Community: David Walters Shares his Hydrocephalus Story”). I also made an independent movie called Drained and I showed it to my school. The movie talked about my personal experience with hydrocephalus, but it also highlighted other important topics, such as the need for more research.
HA: Is movie making something you would like to continue in the future?
DAVID: Although movie making is my niche, I also really enjoy working with children. In the future, I would like to go into Early Childhood Education and become a teacher.
HA: Of all the work that HA does for the hydrocephalus community, what do you think is the most important or impactful?
DAVID: I think the conferences are most important and impactful because they bring everyone together. They educate everyone and they act as a big support system for the hydrocephalus community.
HA: What are some of the biggest challenges that you overcame as a result of living with hydrocephalus?
DAVID: The biggest challenge I overcame were the non-stop headaches I had when my shunt malfunctioned at age 9. I had to immediately go into surgery. Without a cure, things like this can happen at any time.
HA: What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
DAVID: Making my movie and spreading it to the public is my greatest accomplishment. It was just posted on the Hydrocephalus Association channel on YouTube!
HA: What else would you like to see HA do now? Five years from now?
DAVID: In the present I would like to see more teens involved in the TTC program. This is something the teens in the hydrocephalus community can work on. Five years from now, I would like HA get closer to finding a cure for hydrocephalus.
HA: What message do you have for individuals your age living with hydrocephalus?
DAVID: You can get through it; we are here to support you. Sometimes I forget that I have hydrocephalus because I have such good friends supporting me through it. It will be alright.
HA: What message do you have for the general public about hydrocephalus?
DAVID: We need more research!
HA: What message do you have for the staff of HA?
DAVID: You guys are awesome. HA has played a big part in my life. Keep doing what you are doing!
HA: What message do you have for the board and founding members of HA?
DAVID: Thank you for everything! You guys rock!