City Heights Teens Reach Out During Time Of Isolation
Thursday, April 29, 2021
Photo by Nicholas McVicker
Kept apart during the pandemic, teenagers across the country have felt isolated, missing vital life events like their senior year in high school or first year in college.
Advocates for Change Today, a group of youth organizers committed to addressing substance abuse and mental health issues in the City Heights community, are trying to bridge the gaps that have sprung up during this time, and where despair might have set in.
“Over the years we’ve been running campaigns that try to reach the people about youth and drug use because that seems to be overlooked. And I, as a member of my community, am tired of that,” said Kimberly Flores, a student at Hoover High School, and one of the organizers of the group.
A Zoom-based town hall for youth this week called “Together By Your Side” brings together speakers from the National Alliance of Mental Illness, and the San Diego Boys to Men Mentoring Network.
“It would be nice to have people know they’re not alone, at least during this pandemic,” said Chris Acolt, another organizer from Hoover High School. “I know we all have our own problems, our own lives, and we just have to get through it. We need to remember that we’re not by ourselves. We’re not suffering alone. We all have each other to look after.”
The youth organizers have been working on the programming for months — in the process, helping to generate the next generation of community leaders.
Rocio Hernandez was one of the founders of the group, over a decade ago. She now works at Say San Diego, an organization focused on the well-being of young people, and mentors this group of young people.
“We are looking to youth to one day take over the group and keep the legacy going,” she said. “We really encourage them that you can be in this role in the future because you really are leaders.”
The hope is next year, a similar town hall can be in person, as the world, and young people especially, become closer to one another once again.
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