McGrew: Thanks for helping with Youth Empowerment Partners event

Participants at the recent Youth Empowerment Partners event. (Submitted photo)

The Youth Empowerment Partners had another very successful leadership retreat in August and we want to thank all of our partners and adult allies for your support.

I want to begin by thanking Russell True and his family and staff at the White Stallion Ranch for hosting and providing us with amazing accommodations, which included riding horses this year.

This was the second year that the True family opened their hearts and five-star facility to our youth, for which we are eternally grateful. All of the youth and adults raved about the ranch, the food and the generous attention provided by the WSR staff.

This year’s retreat had lots of laughter and a few tears. A safe space was again created by our adult allies and staff to honor each other with full loving attention that allowed for some true and difficult things to be shared. We had numerous presentations and activities that enriched and inspired us young and old.

We are grateful that our Pinal County attorney, Kent Volkmer, was able to once again start off our retreat with heartfelt comments noting the numerous challenges faced by our youth and the importance of having them join us as leaders in addressing those issues.

We are also thankful to Raquel Goodrich for sharing about Text, Talk and Act, a texting platform that has been used across the U.S. for opening dialogues about mental health concerns faced by adolescents. We explored the possibility of expanding the themes of the platform to include bullying, substance abuse and other adverse experiences faced by youth. More to come on this.

Thanks to poet Jordan Chaney for coming all the way from the state of Washington to engage our youth with his personal story of resiliency and hope. Jordan helped us explore our creativity and emotions by encouraging us to build some thought provoking skits.

We were also honored to have our No. 1 youth empowerment partner, the United Dance Company, share its amazing moves and passion by performing and giving their testimonials about pursuing their dreams and passions and creating their own dance studio that will be opening soon to support youth in Coolidge and other communities.

Thanks to Chyllia for bringing her gift as a healer and for being on point as our medical staff person, Ivan for documenting the love and laughter (most of which he created) and Celina for providing cultural medicine and healing for our amazing group of YEP leaders.

Finally, I want to thank Sharon Stinard of the AJ Wellness Coalition, Dan Schneider of Koty-Leavitt and Norman E. Mudd, CEO of Horizon Health and Wellness, for being core to the vision, creation and continuity of the youth empowerment partners over the course of this past year and in moving us forward.

Our next event is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 2, and will be hosted by our youth empowerment partners in Casa Grande. We’ll keep everyone posted on next steps..

Wishing everyone a safe and exceptional school year.

Gustavo E. McGrew
Director of community relations
Horizon Health and Wellness
Apache Junction

Editor’s note: For information on Youth Empowerment Partners, contact Mr. McGrew at

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