By Magdalena Palomares
Youth Representative, YouthZone Board of Directors
As a youth-facing organization, YouthZone prioritizes the voices of our region’s youth. For the last two years, I have held a spot on YouthZone’s Board of Directors as one of a succession of high school students. In a new role as Youth Advisory Council Chair, I will recruit high school students from Aspen to Parachute to develop a new youth council to provide an even stronger voice for young people for this nonprofit.
As a senior at Glenwood Springs High School, I strive to be a successful student in both academics and extracurriculars. But throughout my high school years, I have noticed that anxiety and depression have become common mental health struggles students face due to high expectations and the pressure for students to do well in their classes and be the best at their after-school activities.
Students feel like they have to do everything perfectly. They are expected to have a 4.0 grade point average, be a president of a club, a captain of a sports team, a state champion, and frequently volunteer. Failing is not an option, because students do not want to disappoint their parents and teachers who have high expectations.
Students can start to feel inadequate and think they are falling behind their peers. This culture of excellence and accomplishment hurts students because there is no wiggle room to breathe.
Teenagers need to enjoy being in high school and have fun with their friends. Having little time to themselves and a constant to-do list to cross off, leaves students vulnerable to stress and possibly more serious mental health problems.
High schoolers need support from schools, parents and resources like YouthZone to get help when they feel overwhelmed. Providing this safety net for students to talk to professionals can help when they don’t know how to help themselves.
This kind of stress students feel during their high school career are one of the many topics that the youth advisory board will be able to explore. If you would like to be a voice for your fellow students, please join us.
As one of the youth leaders at YouthZone, you will attend monthly virtual meetings as well as have an opportunity to attend one board meeting during the year. Our Board of Directors highly values input from our youth and are excited to grow this council. To apply or refer a student for this council, go to our website www.youthzone.com or call 970-945-1300. I will reach out to schedule an appointment.
YouthZone has served youth and families in our communities since 1976. The organization has shifted and adjusted through the years based on data and the needs of our community.
In the summer of 2021, YouthZone conducted a listening tour with our primary referral agents including school leaders, district leaders, law enforcement and our county human services professionals. As a result, some significant changes have been made to our systems with increased access to services in order to effectively serve the community.