Havasu youth group earn a first place at Phoenix competition

May 9, 2019

A Lake Havasu City youth group is working hard to stop the tragedy of suicide.

The Havasu Youth Advisory Council recently won the 2018-19 DemocraSeed competition and its focus is on advocating for mental health awareness in the City. It’s the second time in three years Havasu has won.

“HYAC worked hard to bring attention to mental health issues in our community,” Mayor Cal Sheehy said. “I am proud of their vision, determination, and hard work. HYAC continues to make us proud!”

Sheehy and City Manager Jess Knudson attended the final showcase, May 1 in Phoenix at the Parson’s Leadership Center at South Mountain.

The Youth Advisory Council submitted a video of their journey in April, and then it did a 10-minute presentation of its journey, May 1.

Havasu won a hard-fought competition after beginning in August 2018 after selection at the League of Cities and Towns. It won $500 seed money for further efforts on raising mental health awareness in Havasu starting at the high school and in a continued partnership with #YOUmatter.

DemocraSeed is a Civic Health Initiative of the Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA) in partnership with Arizona State University’s Public Service Academy (PSA) that seeks to increase interest in civic engagement, creative problem solving, and entrepreneurship among students participating in city and tribal youth councils throughout Arizona.

For the past eight months, Havasu competed against three other youth councils from the cities of Avondale, Tempe and San Luis, using Design Thinking skills learned through attending CFA and PSA workshops, to come up with a civic engagement project to better their communities.

With the community’s support, HYAC’s winning project focused on advocating for mental health awareness in Lake Havasu City. After losing a school classmate and friend to a tragedy in September of last year, they felt the need to help prevent future occurrences.

HYAC partnered with service organizations including the Havasu Community Health Foundation and the “#YOUmatter;” group to bring awareness to mental health and suicide prevention in our area by hosting and coordinating a community engagement workshop.

“There is still much stigma about suicide that makes people feel like they do not have a better alternative,” said HYAC member and Lake Havasu High School Junior Cheyenne Halfacre-Buie. “We learned through partnering with the “#YOUmatter;” group that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and the more we spread awareness and talk about support, the more likely we can save lives.”

Havasu high school senior Tatum Bracamonte has been a member of the Youth Advisory Council for four years.

“I have really enjoyed the opportunities that were given to me to work local and state leaders to affect change,” Bracamonte said. “I learned that our community is a giving community, and one that I would like to return to following college graduation.”

Bracamonte is planning on attending Northern Arizona University to earn her teaching degree, and wishes to teach 11th grade English at Lake Havasu High School when she returns.

HYAC consists of nine youth council members that serve at the pleasure of the Mayor and City Council, providing a voice for the youth in the community on City matters.

HYAC is involved in other various community service projects over the years including National Public Lands Days, HSO Teen Break, Community Dinners, and Vision 20/20. They also attend the Youth Program at the League of Arizona Cities and Towns Annual Conference in August.

The Youth Council’s win in the 2016-17 DemocraSeed competition was for their project “Project: WeOutCare” website creation www.projectweoutcare.com where the community can purchase school supplies for local teachers with just a click of a button.

For more information or to find out how you can support HYAC, contact the Mayor’s office at 928- 453-4152.