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Youth Wellness Initiative

The Youth Wellness Initiative (YWI), hosted by the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation and funded by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, aims to better understand the mental health needs of high school youth across the five-county region. In doing so, this Initiative will also help impact our shared Northwest Michigan Community Development objective focused on improving youth mental health.

Who can participate?

Any public, private, or home-schooled high school youth from the following counties: Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, and Kalkaska.

Why are students being asked to join?

As a youth-led project, the YWI wants to know how you think about mental health. We also want to hear your ideas about how to improve mental health resources in the five-county region.  

What will I be expected to do?

The initiative has two parts:

  • In Part 1, students will learn valuable research skills and get to collectively design a survey on youth mental health with the help of a local public opinion researcher. Students will also analyze the results of their survey and work together to develop key recommendations.
  • In Part 2, students will get the opportunity to share their research findings and key recommendations with the community by teaming up with a journalist from Interlochen Public Radio. This audio storytelling component will allow students to raise awareness about youth mental health in the region.

What if I don’t have any experience in research or journalism?

That’s okay! The point of the YWI is to provide students with an opportunity to learn leadership, research, and public speaking skills, with the help of expert guidance. No prior experience is required.

How will this benefit me, my peers, and the community?

You will:

  • Build leadership, research, and public speaking skills.
  • Gain experience and skills that'll support your future plans.
  • Develop strong ties with your fellow YWI peers.
  • Help identify key areas to improve youth mental health across the region, which will support a healthier community for future generations. 

How much time will I be expected to devote to the project?

Students will spend approximately 3-4 hours each month on the program. Most of this time will be spent in group meetings (in-person, virtual, and hybrid formats) with some occasional independent work. Meetings will take place after school 2x/month. Part 1 (research) will take place from January 2023 – May 2023 and Part 2 (storytelling) will begin in September 2023.

How will I be compensated for my time?    

Yes! Students will receive a stipend of $300 for participating in Part 1, and an additional $300 for Part 2. Compensation will be disbursed at regular intervals throughout the program.

When will the program start?

Part 1 (research) will begin in late January 2023. A precise date and meeting time will be set once participants have signed up and shared their preferred days to meet.

How do I join?

Sign-up for Phasse 2 will begin during the summer of 2023.

Other questions?

Please reach out to YWI Project Coordinator, Ashley Drake at aekdrake@gmail.com.

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