Janesville31.7°

Youth dishes out prevention

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Stacy Vogel
January 20, 2008
— Lillian Dypold knows what she wants, and she’s not afraid to tell you.

So when the adults around her weren’t stepping up to lead an organization that’s important to her, the 14-year-old didn’t hesitate to volunteer—even though she’s the only youth in the group.


Lillian has served as co-chairwoman of the Edgerton Coalition for a Healthy Community since its inception last year.


The group looks to address issues affecting young people, starting with underage drinking.


“I felt like I was just as active as everyone else,” Lillian said of her decision to co-chair the group. “I have just as good organization skills; I like to lead groups, and I like what this group is about.”


Speaking her mind comes naturally to Lillian, said her mother, Gretchen.


The energetic redhead is the youngest of five children and comes from activist parents—Gretchen works with young adults as a prevention specialist with Rock County Child Protective Services, while Lillian’s father, Doug, serves on the Edgerton Fire Protection District Commission and is involved in local issues.


“All of our kids are opinionated, but (Lillian) has whatever that spark is to take action and move forward,” Gretchen said.


She also has the spark to blaze her own trail, Gretchen said.


Lillian tends to choose activities that set her apart from her parents, from starting an anti-tobacco group in middle school to her current work with the coalition.


In the meantime, she’s active in cheerleading, drama, choir, pom-poms and Teens Against Prejudice at Edgerton High School. She also serves as sophomore class president.


But Lillian has found a special outlet with the Edgerton Coalition for a Healthy Community, she said.


“A lot of adults who are working with children pretend like they care about their opinion, but they don’t really,” she said.


“In ECHC, I actually felt like I had something to say. If I had an idea, I could say it and be listened to.”


In turn, Lillian has provided a vital perspective to a group whose main goal is to make young people feel valued and convince them to choose healthy lifestyles, said Erin Springstead, Edgerton High School counselor and a member of the coalition.


“She’s willing to speak out about what it’s like to be a teenager in Edgerton, and the good things and the bad things, and not many kids are able to do that, to verbalize it as she does,” Springstead said.


Lillian’s willing to take on tough issues and speak her mind even when her opinion might not be popular, she said.


Springstead called Lillian’s leadership “commendable,” but to Lillian, it’s just part of who she is.


“I could sit at home all day and watch TV, but I choose to participate in my school and my community to make it better,” she said.


LILLIAN DYPOLD
Age: 14
Community: Albion Township
Occupation: Sophomore at Edgerton High School
Family: Youngest daughter of Gretchen and Doug Dypold. Three older brothers, one older sister, two nephews and a niece
Favorite movies: “My Girl” and “Saved”
Favorite movie quote: “Why would God make us all so different if he wanted us to fit in a perfect little box?” from “Saved.”
Obscure interest: Frank Lloyd Wright architecture
Little-known fact: Lillian is a descendent of presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.
Possible career areas: Medicine, public health, environmental science or public office
Favorite historical figure: Mother Theresa. “Even though she had doubts about her faith or what God had called her to do, she continued to help people.”
Favorite way to relax: Marathon bubble baths

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