Established in 1989, the Governor’s Youth Commission (GYC) is a diverse body of high school students from across the State, representing the demographic and geographic diversity of Arizona. Commissioners work to identify and address the greatest challenges facing Arizona’s youth through innovative community impact projects, establishing partnerships with young leaders across the state, and advising the Governor. The GYC is committed to empowering generations of civically engaged and service-oriented leaders to create a brighter future for Arizona. Commissioners are selected based on their demonstrated commitment to the school and their community, and their oral and written ability to communicate effectively through the application process.
The GYC achieves its mission through its five workgroups that focus on the following issue areas:
The Distracted Driving Workgroup aims to combat distracted driving by emphasizing the consequences of doing so, and by also encouraging Arizona teen drivers to practice safe driving habits.
The 2022-2023 Distracted Driving Workgroup created a public awareness campaign that brings to light how negative driving habits have personally impacted individuals within their local communities, as well as provides information and resources for Arizonans to learn more about how they can save lives by practicing safe driving habits, and how they can get involved by downloading and sharing their resource fliers. These efforts will aid in increasing awareness and education to Arizona teens and young adults about the seriousness of distracted driving and how it is a 100% preventable problem. #HandsFreeAZ
The Domestic Violence Workgroup strives to raise awareness about domestic violence and educate the public on how it affects the vast demographics seen across the State of Arizona. To do so, the 2022-2023 Domestic Violence Workgroup completed two community outreach events to raise awareness about recognizing red flags in dating relationships, gather resources to prevent domestic violence, and explore the many ways to support individuals impacted by domestic violence. Additionally, the workgroup conducted a statewide Hygiene Product Drive during the month of April. Donated items from 50 donation sites amounted to approximately $21,155 in monetary value benefiting eight domestic violence shelters in three Arizona counties.
The 2023-2023 Education Workgroup focused its efforts on raising awareness of alternatives to post-secondary education, as well as the importance of completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) throughout Arizona high schools. To do so, the workgroup consolidated resources from across the state to develop region-specific resources that include opportunities for one-on-one FAFSA assistance, connecting to local trade schools, etc. By promoting the importance of completing the FAFSA, as well as alternative and non-traditional post-secondary options, the workgroup is expanding the options presented to Arizona high schoolers to better prepare them for a career they’re passionate about.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented new mental health challenges. Throughout the state, Arizona high school students have endured circumstances such as isolation, uncertainty, and repetitiveness that have taken an unhealthy toll on their mental health. Given this, the Mental Health Workgroup aims to gather resources on suicide prevention to increase awareness of the available resources within their communities to Arizona high school students and their families.
The 2022-2023 Mental Health Workgroup developed a toolkit designed for high school students interested in starting a mental health club at their school using materials from the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program. Through these efforts, the workgroup aided in bringing awareness and education around available suicide prevention resources for teens that will reduce the stigma around expressing to peers when they are struggling with their own mental health, and ultimately reduce the number of deaths by suicide among Arizona teens.
Most adults who meet the criteria for having a substance use disorder start using substances during their teens and young years (U.S. Surgeon General, 2021). Because of this, the Substance Abuse Workgroup aims to spread awareness to Arizona high school students and parents on the dangers of substance misuse and abuse. As substance abuse has become an increasing problem among young adults, this workgroup provides a wide range of resources and strategies from early prevention to harm reduction that work to prevent substance misuse and abuse across the state.
Utilizing the 2021-2022 Substance Abuse Workgroup's one-stop-shop of early prevention-focused resources for substance abuse, the 2022-2023 Substance Abuse Workgroup expanded on these efforts to provide additional resources around harm reduction strategies for teens, as well as general substance misuse and abuse information for parents. Available in English and Spanish, resources include county-specific information to ensure individuals receive local and culturally competent services that best fit their needs. These efforts will aid in creating a statewide needs assessment identifying counties/regions where additional targeted outreach is needed to increase awareness about substance misuse and abuse resources within local communities.