The STAR Center will feature young people every month from across the country who are making a difference in their communities and demonstrating extraordinary leadership that you need to know about! Help us make sure young people in your community are recognized and valued by nominating someone today!
My name is Rachelle Areyan. I belong to the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and I live in Fresno, California. I currently work for the Fresno American Indian Health Project as the Youth coordinator. I am very excited to start this new adventure working with the youth in my community.
Right now I am helping to plan our Gathering of Native Americans (GONA) for our valley youth! This is a successful event every year to help our Native youth learn about their culture and living a healthy lifestyle. It also teaches about the trauma we face as Native people and how they can not only overcome this, but thrive despite it. I feel honored to help facilitate this curriculum and watch the positive outcomes from it.
Recently, I was also part of a team that developed the Youth Personal Balance Tool, which is a strength based self-assessment. This tool was created as a self-assessment for youth to find the positives in their life, and work on improving them. Many assessments that are already available tend to look at the "glass as half empty", and nobody wants to admit that their glass is half empty; so we ignore it. I am proud of this tool because it makes you feel as though your glass is "half full" and by doing so it creates a feeling that you can make changes in your life.
Most of our greatest successes working with youth have been when we take the time to talk with them and listen to what they would like to do in their community. Often time’s youth feel that we listen to their ideas and we do not follow through. So we try very hard to make sure to listen and take their ideas very seriously and whenever possible make them happen. My suggestion to other organizations is to make the youth feel as though their opinion matters and that you share their concerns. This in itself, I have found creates a rise in participation and attendance among our youth in the services and programs we offer.