Skip to Content

Youth Engagement Resources

Youth Engagement Resources 2023-12-08T11:22:49-07:00

Resources for Youth

Below is a list of Youth Programs in New Mexico and grouped by Category. Young people can access these organizations through their websites.

Youth Voice

Youth Advocacy




Educational Competitions

College and Career/Work/Life skills


Boy Scouts of America-New Mexico

Additional Resources

Career Technical Education Brochure

New Mexico Lottery Scholarship

New Mexico Opportunity Scholarship

At a Glance

Self-advocacy is a skill that teens can learn with help and practice. As teens mature, and continue to hone their skills, they take on greater responsibility for actively advocating for themselves and develop an important skill that supports lifelong success. Following are some strategies to help young people acquire the skills that will serve them well as they go through school and beyond.

Start Understandibng Teachers Early On

Teens often worry that teachers don’t like them if they ask too many questions or speak up for themselves. Rest assured that most good teachers respect active learners, and are eager to help all students, regardless of their learning style. Do not hesitate to seek answers to your questions!

Encourage Self-Awareness

As they progress through their education, students should become increasingly aware of their specific assets and deficits and what specific help they need to succeed. Practice, when at school, as in most of life, to interact with adults with politeness and a positive attitude. This usually results in favorable outcomes and will help in developing positive relationships. Teens will be well-received when they offer respect first.

Stay Positive

When teens stay positive, no matter their level of frustration and anger, their interactions with adults will move in the right directions. Although hard to do, teens should always work on believing that there is a positive result that can come from any difficult situation. Teens need to clearly identify what they need and how an adult may support them.

Support Critical Thinking- Self Analysis

Teens should try to sort out their strengths and weaknesses in non-confrontational settings. This will develop the confidence and awareness they need to speak for themselves. Consider the answers to these questions:

How do I best learn?

Am I an experiential learner, auditory learner, visual learner, kinesthetic learner, or tactile leaner (hand’s on)?

By knowing this, it will help teens communicate with their teachers the best practices that help them succeed.

What works best for me when I am confused and can’t figure out what to do?

How do I seek help?

How best do I communicate and what do I expect after I connect with others?

Engage In Problem-Solving

Try to discover which teachers clarify and which ones confuse, which approaches are calming, and which are chaotic. Brainstorm with friends

to find helpful, coping strategies within your class. Students who envision positive possibilities are better equipped to approach continuing challenges.

Promote Self-Advocacy

Teens need to know that it’s appropriate to inform a teacher of issues and circumstances that impact them and their learning. Do not be afraid to let adults know what is happening in your life and how they can help, it’s alright to need and ask for help!

Require Involvement

Knowledge is power! High schoolers should be encouraged to participate in the process that defines their learning. They should know their rights to fully understand how to advocate for themselves. Learn what rights teens have in school and how to make sure they are not being denied those rights.

Plan For The Future

Long before graduation approaches, teens should play an active role in the transition planning that affects life after high school. Summer internships, jobs, or pre-college, campus-based programs can offer wonderful firsthand experience for real-world possibilities. Teens that are proactive (acting before the situation is upon them), are more ready to make informed and smart decisions. Planning is the key!

Build Self-Esteem

Successful self-advocacy starts with self-esteem. The strongest self-advocates are those who feel best about themselves. Believe in your own capabilities and strive to develop your full potential. This is all self-advocacy!

By Marcia Brown Rubinstien, MA, CEP

11 Self-Care Tips for Teens and Young Adults

Teens and young adults today are more stressed, anxious, depressed and lonely than ever – at least in the United States.

It seems to be a perfect storm of several factors. Social media and Additional forces plaguing Gen Z and college-age Millennials include worries about their future, climate change, economic and job uncertainty, identity and image, academic pressures and being over-scheduled.

Gen Z and Millennials are also becoming more aware of mental health challenges, particularly their own anxiety and depression. And, most scary is that depression and suicide are on the rise and have reached an all-time high.

Here are some things that can be included in a toolbox to promote well-being. Many of these are in the Clay Center Videos on Middle School, High School and College Self-Care.

Tools for Self-Care

  1. Carve out time. This is the basic pre-requisite for just about all the ways to take of yourself. You need time, and it has to be part of a daily routine. Many of the activities below don’t require a lot of time – some only take up 15-20 minutes in your day. It’s the regularity that counts.
  2. Meditation. We’ve come a long way from meditation being considered hocus pocus. Mindful meditation has proven to change the structure and function of the brain, and it’s a fabulous way to promote relaxation while reducing anxiety, depression, and stress. It can be learned in-person with an expert, or online (there are plenty of YouTube instructional videos or smartphone apps).
  3. Yoga. Yoga and other types of Eastern methods of activity involve stretching, improving flexibility, connecting mind and body – all of which are helpful for stress reduction and wellness.
  4. Exercise. Working out comes in many forms. There’s training for strength, endurance, and aerobic activity (getting your heart beat up). But simply walking 2 miles a day is great exercise – plus it gets you outside!
  5. Get some sleep. Easier said than done, but sleep deprivation is detrimental to a person’s thinking, and their physical and emotional state. Try to have as regular a sleep schedule.
  6. Creative expression. Choose a creative outlet to convey your thoughts and feelings. This could be journaling, writing poetry, painting or drawing, doing photography, dancing, or playing music.
  7. Play with a pet. If you are lucky and can have a pet, there may be few better ways to foster self-care. Cuddling with a pet, taking care of them, and feeling their unconditional love is something we rarely experience on such a consistent basis.
  8. Meet and communicate with friends. Research has found that meeting with peers and talking about what’s going on with you — including past events you’re still processing — prevents burnout and promotes well-being. It only takes a few special friends to make a big difference in your life.
  9. Appreciate nature. There’s a reason we treasure our state and national parks, waterways, and beaches. There is something to our relationship with the outdoors that makes us feel good, if we can allow ourselves a few minutes not to rush or be disturbed by our ring tones.
  10. Turn off smart phones (at least for part of the day). It’s hard. But really, you don’t need it on constantly, as if it’s stitched to your side. How many texts, Instagram stories or other digital communications do you need to see immediately? Very few!
  11. Do something for someone else. Our brains are wired for giving. In fact, the chemicals released by the brain during the process of giving is far more rewarding than when we receive gifts. Giving fosters the feeling (and reality) that you are making a positive impact on another person’s life.

Bottom line: In all times, we need ways to help maintain our ability to cope. Self-care techniques are fundamental for preventing stress before it strikes and are fundamental for sustaining equilibrium during hard times!

Psychology Today: Eugene Beresin, M.D., is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Here is an article about mental wellness rooms that some students may want to discuss with their school administrators. These rooms have proven to be beneficial in helping young people deal with the stress that may overcome them during the school day.

Megan Taros, The Santa Fe New Mexican

August 30, 2022

Aug. 31—A state task force charged with finding ways to address a decline in mental health among public school students heard from teachers and administrators Monday about efforts at three districts to tackle the problem with new “wellness spaces.”

The Las Cruces, Alamogordo and Taos school districts are creating comfortable spaces for students and staff to relax, relieve stress and curb burnout.

The task force, created by the Legislature in 2021, is gathering data from around the nation on wellness spaces to determine their effectiveness and aims to submit recommendations to the Legislature on Nov. 1 on whether a pilot project in public schools would be beneficial.

Rep. Pamelya Herndon, D-Albuquerque, who introduced a House memorial creating the task force, told the group during a meeting at the state Capitol adolescents were struggling with mental health before the coronavirus pandemic, a problem that worsened in the last couple of years.

“The pandemic, of course, often had a widespread and often devastating effect on our students, both at school and at home, and impacted not just their studies, but their mental health and their well-being,” Herndon said. “Many of our youth … lost family members or were affected by illness and economic hardships in their households.”

Herndon cited a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that found 50 percent of students in the U.S. experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness during the pandemic, and 25 percent of those students said they had seriously considered suicide.

In 2019, the CDC found feelings of sadness and hopelessness in students had jumped 40 percent from 2009, according to a report. The report said 1 in 6 children made a suicide plan, a 44 percent increase from a decade earlier.

So far, about 10 New Mexico schools are on a list to participate in a pilot program on wellness centers.

Some schools already are prioritizing mental health as part of their district’s pandemic recovery. At Las Cruces Public Schools, the second-largest district in New Mexico, 21 percent of schools have created wellness spaces in classrooms and another 28 percent are developing them, said Soña Alaniz Saiz, the district’s coordinator of mental health and academic counseling.

Saiz said the district had an unexpected excess of Title IV funds — federal money that can be used to boost student support — and used it to buy items like beanbag chairs, coloring books and exercise bands to create “starter kits” for wellness rooms in schools that didn’t have them.

Schools are using the rooms for both prevention and intervention, she said, meaning some students are referred to wellness spaces to work with the counselors and teachers who staff them. Many of the spaces also evolved into gathering places where students feel they can be themselves, Saiz said.

Refugee students use the spaces for prayer during school, she added, which brings “a sense of welcome and belonging.”

Students at Taos High School made a video pitch for the principal detailing what a mental wellness room could look like, said Emy Martínez-DeHerrera, the school’s dean of instruction.

Taos High has worked with the local LOR Foundation to create a staff wellness room and then received a grant for the student spaces.

The school didn’t have enough staff to create a separate room, but students suggested smaller spaces around the campus to accomplish the same goals.

Students brought in motivational posters, put couches and tables around the school and put beanbag chairs in the library. They also offer bike rentals for students who don’t have access to one.

Additional supplies like a microwave for student use, plants and seating in hallways have led to students moving around the school more during breaks.

Martínez-DeHerrera said students told her they feel like the spaces are truly for them and have actively maintained the spaces. “There’s a lot of ownership there and a lot of agency in regards to what they’re willing to do,” she said.

Lisa Patch, director of health services at Alamogordo Public Schools, said the district is working to develop a centrally located wellness space for teachers.

The pandemic and school safety issues contributed to teacher burnout nationwide, she said, citing a recent Gallup poll that found 44 percent of K-12 teachers surveyed said they were “always” or “very often” burned out. One in 4 teachers reported experiencing depression at the beginning of 2021, while administrators said they were struggling with ways to support their staff.

The district’s teacher wellness center would include coffee and water stations, massage chairs, a book club in which participants would read books about how to support their own mental well-being, on-site mental health care and a relaxation room or a calming space where teachers can stretch out, do light exercise and monitor their blood pressure.

The district also is working to connect teachers with health care providers.

“This really is changing the culture of our schools,” Patch said. “… I feel like if teachers are not healthy in that way, they’re not going to recognize the students’ needs until they’ve addressed their own.”

A study by faculty at the University of Victoria Canada distilled seven design themes that impact the sense of place and wellbeing of building occupants:

  1. Freedom-Control
  2. Nature
  3. Materials
  4. Art
  5. Acoustics
  6. Light
  7. Air Quality & Thermal Comfort

Examples of Wellness Rooms. Try to find the common elements of each.

It is important to understand how your school is structured. Below, I have listed 4 school engagement models. Which one sounds like the school you attend? Do you want it to be different? Or is it working well for you?

Model 1 — Independent

This model is based on the assumption that Stakeholders delegate to schools the responsibility for educating their children. Educators in turn accept the responsibility. Stakeholders hold the school accountable. The school works independent of Stakeholders to educate children Involvement in decision making and working together is considered inappropriate or unnecessary by the school. There are few, if any, opportunities to share resources or responsibilities.

Model 2 — Mission-driven

The school establishes the mission and enlists Stakeholders’ support. The school identifies appropriate values and practices for children’s success. The school believes that success is fostered by similar expectations and values across school and home. The direction is primarily from school to home with little input from other groups.

Model 3 — Cooperative

The school recognizes the expertise Stakeholders have. The school assumes that interactions between home and school are helpful. One main attitude is that individuals and educators each have unique expertise related to education. Educators draw on Stakeholders’ knowledge and experiences to enhance instruction. The drawbacks in this model occur when schools do one of the following:

  • See the curriculum as all important and fixed in place.
  • Are not willing to invite Stakeholders to be part of curricular decision making.
  • Do not think broadly about bridging school and home resources.

Model 4 — Collaborative

The school works with Stakeholders to accomplish a common mission for children’s educational success. There is collaboration among parents, educators, and community members. Collaboration occurs through two-way communication, recognizing Stakeholders’ strengths, and solving problems together. The school is open to exploring new policies, practices, relationships, and attitudes that foster partnering for children’s school success.

Page last updated December 8, 2023