Youth Matter Summer Session June 16 at Apache Junction High School

The Youth Empowerment Partners taken at White Stallion Ranch last August. (Submitted photo)

It’s hard to believe this school year is almost over. Just a year ago members of the Apache Junction Wellness Partnership came together to address the potential fallout from the controversial teenage suicide drama series, “13 Reason’s Why,” which aired on Netflix.

After receiving a significant donation from Russell True, owner of the White Stallion Ranch, the AJWP was able to host an overnight Youth Leadership Retreat for 40 youth and adults from around Pinal County.

The youth and adults from a variety of substance abuse coalitions, schools and community service providers explored their thoughts and feelings regarding teen suicide and the issues that play a role in young people contemplating and acting on taking their own lives. Participants were also provided with skill building and action planning workshops.

As of August the Youth Empowerment Partners have continued to meet and plan with youth and adult allies from several communities and have accomplished various activities to promote Positive Youth Development.

This past April we held the Youth Matters Forum with over 100 people in attendance at the Central Arizona College Campus in Apache Junction. Overall, we received very positive feedback and an interest from those who attended to see more Youth Empowerment Partners’ events.

With this in mind, we’re happy to announce that our Youth Empowerment Partners have another event scheduled 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, June 16, at Apache Junction High School, 2525 S. Ironwood Drive, for high school and middle school age students and an additional track for parents/guardians and adults.

You’re invited to join us. We are excited to have some very motivational presenters and presentations for both youth and adults. The Youth Matter Summer Session is also designed to break into specific youth and adult tracks before we get back to together for a dynamic closing presentation by the United Dance Co.

We’ll have a special presentation in the youth track by Raquel Goodrich on the “Text, Talk, Act” program aimed at having youth explore a texting platform to engage with each other in small groups about mental illness and stigma.

Dr. Shari Thomas and Ron Dominguez with the San Tan Valley Coalition will be sharing their new parent toolkit to support parents/guardians with great information and resources.

This is a free event and we encourage participation from throughout the county. If you have any questions, let Sharon Stinard (, the chairperson of Apache Junction Wellness Partnership, or myself ( know.

We are hopeful that you will be able to join us and we look forward to seeing you.

Gustavo E. McGrew
Director of Community Relations
Horizon Health and Wellness
Apache Junction

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