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The Children’s Hospital Colorado Pediatric Mental Health Institute (PMHI) Youth Action Board (YAB) consists of up to 15 youth from across the Denver metro area who are interested in raising awareness about and de-stigmatizing mental health issues.
The YAB was created as part of an effort to engage the community and stakeholders in improving mental health services. Specifically, the goals of YAB are to:
Since its inception in 2013, the YAB has had 50 total members representing 24 schools, in eight school districts. The group is led by Tony Edelblute, LPC, MT-BC, a music therapist in the hospital’s Ponzio Creative Arts Therapy Program and Heather Kennedy, MPH, a youth leadership expert.
The 2017-2018 YAB worked side-by-side with staff from the PMHI to plan and implement a large social action project to serve as a conversation starter about how mental health is a human issue that begins with dialogue, connectedness, authenticity and compassion.
In addition, all YAB members were offered the opportunity to participate in Youth Mental Health First Aid training, in which they learned how to help peers in crisis or who may be experiencing a mental health or addiction challenge.
We collected stories and artwork to create a book that can be read by teens and adults alike. We believe that when youth share their story, poem or artwork, it can be a positive and healing experience for themselves and others.
We asked teens and young adults to tell us about their experience with a mental health problem, emotional challenge or personal struggle. We looked for stories or artwork that involve aspects of survival, strength and hope.
"I've learned stuff about myself and I know that I'm very creative and that I'm a whole lot stronger than I thought I was. If I need to speak out, then I know how to and I know how to make a difference"
- Kelsey, YAB member from 2014-2016