Suicide Prevention Program in Flagstaff to Create Youth Council
Flagstaff, Arizona – Native youth in Flagstaff, Arizona can now sign up to become involved in a UNITY Youth Council right in their community. Thanks to efforts by the Native Americans for Community Action’s (NACA), Reach UR Life Program, Native youth can meet as a youth council and become affiliated with UNITY. The mission of NACA is to provide preventive wellness strategies to empower and advocate for Native people and others in heed to create a healthy community based on Harmony, Respect and Indigenous Values.
NACA’s Reach UR Life Program is a suicide prevention program that strives to empower youth to choose life. This program offers a variety of services and resources, including youth diversion activities within the community and collaborating entities. One of the key objectives for this project is to give youth a voice by establishing a UNITY youth council. This council will serve as an opportunity for youth in promoting leadership, community involvement and positive aspects to wellness.
NACA recently held its first meeting with Lynnann Yazzie, Project Coordinator for UNITY’s Today’s Native Leaders youth initiative, as well as supportive youth advocates and parents. One such advocate is Joshua Lavar Butler who has been involved with several youth organizations since the mid-1990s, including the Community Action for Children and Youth in Tuba City, AZ, the Moenkopi–Tuba City Youth Program, and most recently with the Western Navajo Youth Council. Butler helped youth raise much-needed funds to travel to the annual UNITY national and mid-year conferences.
“As a youth advocate, as a father, and as a former tribal leader, I recognized the lack of program funding to provide direct services to the youth throughout Indian Country,” stated Butler. “Considering the plight of our youth as it pertains to drugs, poverty, abuse, and loss of identity and culture, it is clear our youth need advocacy from community leaders and partners more than ever. I want to increase youth participation for my community of Flagstaff. I want our youth to develop leadership qualities, to excel, and to help them become good role models. UNITY has so much to offer from helping youth network, to developing interpersonal skills, to learning about their culture, and most important – pride in their heritage,” he added.
NACA is appreciative of Yazzie’s input with the excitement and support of establishing a UNITY council in Flagstaff, represented by Northern Arizona’s surrounding diverse tribal youth. Yazzie shared information about the history of UNITY, current youth councils, and upcoming events. NACA’s partnering youth clubs are currently reviewing the UNITY constitution and bylaws and will soon take steps to establishing and affiliating their own councils with UNITY.
UNITY staff member Lynnann Yazzie expresses appreciation and encouragement. “I definitely see great potential for collaboration among a few different groups in the Flagstaff area. Meeting with representatives from NACA, youth advocate Joshua Butler, and interested parents was certainly encouraging. I look forward to seeing more opportunities available for Native youth to become involved and taking on leadership roles as they become a part of the UNITY family. We certainly welcome them,” said Yazzie.