Thoughtful. Affirming. Trustworthy. Are You a Youth Champion?

By Active Minds
A student athlete and mentor sit on the bleachers

A Growing Need for Youth Champions

Driven by data that underscores rising rates of mental health stress and illness among youth and young adults, the youth mental health advocacy organization known as Active Minds is harnessing the power of one of the most significant determining factors in youth mental health and wellness: the power of thoughtful, affirming and trustworthy adults. Youth with even one safe and responsive adult in their lives report significantly fewer mental health-related concerns. Data finds those meaningful connections to supportive adults—known at Active Minds as Youth Champions—are critical for positive youth development and is named as a key protective factor in helping to decrease depression and suicide ideation/thoughts. 

What Exactly is a Youth Champion? 

Youth Champions are parents, caregivers, K-12 educators/faculty/staff, and PTA leaders who have or are learning to acquire the skills and abilities to advocate with youth for their positive health and wellness outcomes. A Youth Champion is dedicated to encouraging healthy social, emotional and academic growth for the young people in their care. Core values of Youth Champions include showing unconditional positive regard, celebrating youth culture, uplifting guiding behavior from a positive youth development framework and facilitating relationships based in anti-racist practices. 

A Coordinated Response: Youth Champion Connections 

Youth Champion Connections are workshops developed by a team of human development and public and mental health professionals committed to providing content and inspiring conversations to deconstruct adult-centered youth development frameworks found in many spaces of youth learning and recreation. As adult-centered youth development is historically rooted in an imbalance of power between adults and youth, Active Minds’ workshops are designed to move away from adult-centered frameworks that have been found to discourage candid conversations; stifle critical thinking and curiosity; and inspire distrust and feelings of emotional insecurity among youth.  

Youth Champion Connections workshops are built with parents, caregivers, K-12 educators and staff, PTA leaders and youth development professionals in mind. Because of the deep impact of this role, Active Minds believes it is critically important that Youth Champions be offered supportive learning spaces dedicated to their personal and professional development, including content focused on their own mental health and well-being. Workshops will increase Youth Champions’ mental health literacy and advocacy skills and introduce positive youth development strategies that encourage healthy adult-youth relationships. 

Becoming a Youth Champion

Active Minds believes that to create safe spaces that inspire youth to learn and be emotionally vulnerable, the adults charged with their care and development deserve opportunities to practice thoughtful, affirming and trustworthy youth engagement. Youth Champions will learn new ways of thinking and being during workshops that will benefit them personally and professionally.  

Active Minds Youth Champion Connections will:  

  1. Highlight strategies for youth engagement that spark feelings of emotional safety for youth of all lived experiences and identities.  
  2. Discuss and demonstrate methods that encourage the growth of youth social and emotional skills.
  3.  Increase Youth Champions’ mental health literacy and ability to support youth well-being.
  4. Build Youth Champions’ mental health advocacy skills to create an active and equitable response to mental health from school and out-of-school-time staff that centers and amplifies the voices and needs of youth and staff. 

Want to attend one or all of Active Minds’ Youth Champion Connections? Submit an inquiry form to keep up with our workshop development and content offerings!  

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