The Youth Advisory Board, created by Buffalo County Community Partners to promote youth advocacy in the community, is full of young minds wanting to share their perspectives with the community.

Josh Arias, Youth Coordinator Community Partners, listened in multiple community meetings as organizations expressed the desire to have open dialogue with youth regarding services in the Buffalo County area. Arias asked the Youth Advisory Board if they would want to share their thoughts with these organizations. They set up focus groups for these organizations to have open dialogue directly with the youth. The Youth Advisory Board focus groups are creating a direct link from youth to adult, which is crucial for creating change. The opportunity for youth to share their needs and ideas is beneficial for creating a more cohesive community.

Recently the group met with members from Buffalo County Families Care. The Youth Advisory Board members had the opportunity to learn about what Families Care does, and what resources they offer to families in the community. They talked through breaking the stigma of therapy and the day to day life of helping families and meeting their needs. The youth shared with Families Care how they view the organization and ideas on how to further reach new youth. The youth learned about a great resource to share with those in need, and the organization members gathered information on how to further reach the youth in the community. Carrie Gangwish, a Youth Advisory Board member, said “the focus groups have really allowed me to express my voice in a new way. I feel like I get to make an impact on even more people, and it has taught me many new things about our community.”


Youth Advisory Board held a zoom focus group with Lacey Witt, Richard Young’s Hospital Director, to have an open discussion about Richard Young’s services and the perception the youth have or have heard about the Hospital.


Another focus group was hosted with Lacey Witt, Director of Richard Young Hospital. This conversation started with the youth discussing the stigma often seen around Richard Young Hospital. The youth understand the weight of mental wellness issues, and how it can affect all areas of life. The youth talked about how they use different apps on their phones and music to help take care of their own mental health. Witt said she gained valuable knowledge of new resources that she can share with her staff members. The Youth Advisory Board members are passionate about sharing their knowledge about mental health. “Being able to provide generational insight with certain agencies has been fulfilling. Knowing that I can speak up for my peers in the community and start a progressing butterfly effect brings me joy,” said Baylee McAtee, Youth Advisory Board member.

Witt said she was able to gain insight into better addressing youth mental health needs. Richard Young Hospital continues to work on the stigma that is sometimes associated with Richard Young Hospital.

The Youth Advisory Board is continuing to provide their input by hosting focus groups with other community organizations. If you are interested in more information or being involved in a focus group, Contact Josh Arias, Youth Coordinator, at

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