Lauren Salaiz and Andrew Thompson, Youth Advisors Live Well San Diego Youth Sector
In late 2020, the Live Well San Diego Youth Sector was created to increase meaningful engagement with youth and empower youth voices throughout the region in support of the vision. Since then, the Youth Sector hired 15 diverse youth leaders and 2 youth advisors, ages 16 to 24, to lead and participate in leadership and professional development trainings, mentorships, internships, and youth communications, as well as serve on local County Boards and Commissions. The Youth Sector is unique in that it employs young people and equips them to lead and shape the program in ways that are meaningful to them.
The Youth Sector is rich with opportunity for youth-led activities and youth input, beginning with weekly training topics identified by participants that include diversity and inclusion, leadership skills, using trauma informed language, and various issues affecting youth.
After some months of preparation, the youth leaders now co-facilitate their own meetings and coordinate speakers throughout the county and region to participate. Meetings are centered on collaboration, discussion, and how to positively influence other youth throughout the region.
Youth Leaders are also taking on leadership roles through a three-month mentorship and internship, where they are working on projects in several County of San Diego departments. One Youth Leader is serving as the Live Well San Diego Communications Intern where they are leading content creation for youth-focused messaging on the Live Well San Diego Instagram and TikTok accounts.
This effort is truly youth-led in that the Communications Intern is leading discussions with young people in the region to determine what topics and content resonate most with youth around the region. The Communications Intern has developed content around COVID-19 vaccines, PRIDE Month, Disability Awareness Month, HIV Testing week, menstrual equity, and more.
To expand collaboration among youth-led organizations across the region, Youth Leaders are beginning to organize youth-focused Town Halls. These Town Halls will bring together young people to discuss topics and issues that affect them and allow participants to gain a broader perspective on young people’s experiences around the county.