2023 Youth of the Year talks mental health, stigmas

Photo by Adrianna Sanchez-Lopez Alamosa High School senior Carlos Gonzalez poses for a picture with his family after being named Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Club of the San Luis Valley during the annual Youth of the Year Breakfast celebration on Tuesday morning.

ALAMOSA — Alamosa High School senior Carlos Gonzalez delivered a resonant speech promoting themes of mental health, communication, and empathy to an enraptured audience of over 100 people during the Boys & Girls Club of the San Luis Valley (BGCSLV) annual Youth of the Year Breakfast celebration on Tuesday morning.

A voice of compassion and insight beyond his years, Gonzalez identified common stigmas that discourage many individuals in the San Luis Valley from seeking help. Gonzalez spoke about mental health in “Latino and Mexican-American communities,” stating, “The idea of machismo is detrimental to our community getting rid of the stigma of mental health as well as the idea that it is not okay to talk about how you are feeling, much less showing those emotions.”

Throughout his speech, Gonzalez emphasized the importance of acknowledging and communicating one’s emotions. He also championed the efforts of the BGCSLV as not only an origination, but also a community that supports effective communication and teaches young people to resist stigmas associated with mental health.

Gonzalez was also awarded a Gap Scholarship by Adams State University Interim President David Tandberg. Gonzalez plans to study psychology at ASU before using his education to give back to his community.

“I want to use what I learn to support my community of Chicano and Mexican decent…My goal is to be able to help members of not only the Club, but also the community that will come after me. I intend to use both what I will learn, my personal experiences, and what I have lived through to help others get over the stigmas that held me down,” Gonzalez said.

BGCSLV Youth of the Year Judge Mike Sisneros described Carlos as “very deserving of this honor.”

Sisneros added, “It is evident that Carlos embodies the characteristics that make him an extraordinary recipient for this honor! I feel confident that Carlos will represent the San Luis Valley well at the State Youth of the Year event. Moreover, he will be successful in his future endeavors.”

Gonzalez, a member of the BGCSLV from age of 7, will serve as ambassador for the San Luis Valley at the State Youth of the Year Competition. Gonzalez also has a chance to progress to the regional and national competitions. Six teens will advance to the National Youth of the Year competition. Only one teen will be named the Boys & Girls Club National Teen spokesperson.

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