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On June 9, Family and Youth Initiative (FYI) in partnership with the Chaffee County Youth Alliance met at Fun Street Arcade for a viewing of the fifth annual Shared Risk and Protective Factors Conference. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Youth Summit was held virtually. A group of local teens and program leaders gathered to view a presentation that discussed mental health.

Local teens participate virtually in the youth summit and discuss issues surrounding mental health. Image by Brooke Gilmore.

The presentation was given by Lily Kerlin of Colorado Young Leaders and titled “Its Okay Not to be Okay; Mental Health in a Physical World.” This summit is put on by youth for youth and Chaffee County youth program leaders decided this would be a good opportunity for teens to come together and discuss the presentation.

During the summit, local Salida teens expressed their opinions on how mental health is dealt with in the county and that ultimately it needs to be destigmatized and normalized not just in Chaffee but all over the country.

The Shared Risk and Protective Factors Conference attracts adults and young people from across Colorado actively engaged in upstream or primary prevention efforts at the state and local level. By applying a ‘shared risk and protective factors’ lens, the hope is to positively impact young people through reducing risk behaviors and increasing protective factors in the family, school, and community.

This conference recognizes the importance of health equity and seeks to incorporate discussion of health equity in all sessions. This event aims to strengthen collaboration efforts across organizations and funders; build skills to enhance implementation of evidence-based prevention practices, policies, and programs; and highlight successful efforts of community-led coalitions.