Get To Know Mya Kough


Members of the Youth Movers gather before their performance in Canada.

Alexis Rodriguez, News Layout Editor

Would you believe that there are students at YLHS who excel in more than one form of art? One of our very own juniors, Mya Kough, recently exemplified her talent not only within the community, but internationally. Mya, a dancer and aspiring artist, combined two of her passions in a thought-provoking presentation about the environment.


You may be asking yourself, why the environment? Well, Mya came across an organization called Get To Know that was holding an International “Unconference.” This organization surrounds itself with a mission to help spread environmental awareness in youth through the multitude of mediums that art provides. The point of the title, “Unconference,” is that young people are so used to being talked at by the older generation, whereas this organization desires youth to be a part of the dialogue.


In order to attend this “Unconference,” she had to submit one artistic proposal amongst many others. Mya’s proposal, “Oceans,” was centered around a group of six, five of which representing poisons -oil spills, fishing, trash, fossil fuels, and fertilizer- endangering the life of our oceans and one representing Mother Earth. This group would be dancing various pieces while creating a live chalk art illustrating the devastating effects these poisons have. “During my presentation the panel would display the chaos of pollution and destruction of the ocean today.  The chaos will be shown by separate pieces on top of the main canvas.  Each piece will have its own story, being those things that destroy and have long term negative effects on the environment and wildlife trying to survive in it,” stated Mya’s initial proposal. As the piece develops, the pollutants would slowly morph into humans, the only entity on the planet that can change the detrimental downfall of the oceans. By the end, a new painting, consisting of growth and vitality, would overcome the poisons as an uplifting poem is read aloud by each performer. A member of the Youth Movers, Emmy Munn(11) indulged, “I loved the creativity. It was unique and impactful. Not only did her piece speak to me, it spoke to the audience in an astonishing way.”


When asked how and why she came up with this piece Mya responded, “ I was looking around at what to do for my concept and thought about different topics but always kept falling back to the oceans. We live so close to the ocean and I grew up spending every summer there, so for me it is home. I researched about it and found some really crazy stuff happening and it made me realize why I really wanted my concept about the ocean.” Though she is aware of the disastrous amount of issues the ocean faces and the many factors, she felt that “from the research [she] did, [these five poisons] were the most talked about and the most poisonous topics.”


Around early August, Mya discovered she had earned the title of Finalist and that she would be presenting her piece alongside 15 other groups. The performances were to take place in early October, in Kelowna, British Columbia…in Canada! Since then, she and her group of dancers, three students from Yorba Linda High School, two from El Dorado High School, and one from Yorba Linda Middle School, rehearsed at least two hours each weekend in order to prepare. The group, also known as the Youth Movers, fundraised for weeks in order to collectively gather enough money for flight tickets, the conference, and other Canadian expenses. However, it seemed as if time sped by quickly because before the girls knew it, they were on a plane to Kelowna, the “California of Canada.” According to Mya, “Traveling to Canada was amazing! It was so nice to be in a place so beautiful and clean, it was a great place for an environmental (un)conference because it was so environmentally friendly, from the clean air to the recycle bins to the little nature preserves.”


This past weekend on Saturday, October 4th, the Youth Movers presented Mya’s piece “Oceans” in Canada amongst 11 others. It lasted about 15 minutes, leaving five minutes for commentary and question interaction from the live audience. Being one of only three from the United States, the group was quite unique in comparison to most. Yet, it wasn’t until later that evening at the “Unconference’s” banquet, that the team discovered that their efforts had been well worth it all. They were in the Top 3! Alongside a Canadian talented artist and a Canadian singer/songwriter, the so-called “California Girls” essentially won the award as winner of the presentation contest. “Being apart of the Top 3 was so incredible. It really helped me see that all mine and my group’s hard work paid off. It also showed me that our message isn’t just a dance about saving the ocean anymore, but we can actually do something about it to help our oceans and to bring awareness about it,” Mya exclaimed. The six girls then went on to be interviewed by a Canadian television network, Shaw TV. In the studio, they presented a small part of their dance, some artwork, and Mya was interviewed. Additionally, the Youth Movers discovered that the Director of the Get to Know program, Mary Clark, desired the group to become ambassadors of Get to Know in the U.S. through the Orange County Department of Education(OCDE). They are set to perform the piece again here in the O.C. on October 19th.


The exotic experience of traveling to another country to do what they loved most was very special to the girls. Mya commented, “My experience was so fun. I not only learned a lot in creating my piece, but I got so much from all the people there. Everyone was so passionate and had so much knowledge in the environment. It really inspired me to go outside more and really take pride in the little beautiful things that are out there every day.” Emmy added, “I am so blessed that I performed in Canada. It was an amazing experience I will never forget. Traveling with my best friends and conveying an impactful message was absolutely life-changing.”


It was evident that the girls learned so much from their time in Canada. Conveying a message through multiple mediums of art in order to send a message in a way without words, is something incredible. Having the ability to move the audience the way this group did that day, created a feeling the Youth Movers will never forget. “[I felt this piece] was extremely effective. It brought some audience members to tears, and left everyone in the room speechless. I gained a deeper education and passion for the subject and a better appreciation of the ocean,” declared Emmy. Their days in Canada, though few, developed a realization that this was more than just surface-level material. They had deep and complex words to spread and now realized the power they possessed as a group of young people. Mya contended, “Not only have I gained knowledge from the amazing people at the conference, but I learned that if you have something to say, someone out there will listen; for us, we may now be able to make an impact in the environment because someone helped and listened to our message.”


Come back SOON to check out the Youth Movers’ presentation video from Canada and the Shaw Tv interview!\

Also, be sure to vote for “Mya’s Dance” on under the website’s current contests!