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Youth Virtual Town Hall Event to Promote Fentanyl Awareness and Education to our Community

Youth Alliance and the California Youth Empowerment Network collaborate to inform the community about Fentanyl Poisoning with a Youth-led virtual town hall event that aims to discuss and spread the critical message of fentanyl poisoning awareness impacting our youth and community.

Gilroy, May 12, 2022 — As part of a collaboration between Youth Alliance and the California Youth Empowerment Network, local youth will inform and educate the community about fentanyl awareness. Through a virtual youth-led town hall session, youth, parents, and decision-makers will be informed about the impacts on mental health and the consequences of fentanyl poisoning in South Santa Clara County.

“Local youth have worked together over the last six months to put this call to action and develop a virtual town hall event on Fentanyl and its impacts on mental health,” said Rene Casas, Director of Policy at Youth Alliance. “The youth have spoken and want to ensure that the community makes fentanyl a top priority as it impacts everyone in our community.” 

Youth Alliance recognizes how critical it is to inform and spread this important message to the public because awareness can save lives. It is important for youth and parents to come together to ensure that our community feels safe and knowledgeable about fentanyl poisoning. 

“This Youth-led town hall event is an opportunity for our youth to raise public awareness about a crisis that is impacting every community. Parents are losing children to this poison without realizing the risks they’re taking,” said Lillian Silva, Program Leader for Leaders in Training and Youth Alliance staff. “Every parent, teacher and youth should know about the dangers of fentanyl poisoning. The health and safety of our youth needs to be our top priority, which is why Youth Alliance has partnered with the California Youth Empowerment Network to help spread the word about fentanyl.”

Among teenagers, overdose deaths linked to synthetic opioids like fentanyl have tripled in the past two years, yet many people have never heard of fake prescription pills being made with fentanyl. Fentanyl-involved deaths are fastest growing among 14-23 year olds. A new effort is being launched to help prevent this crisis and it all starts with a shared understanding and awareness of the impacts this has on our youth. “Just as important in getting the message to the public, is to make sure we also get youth involved in discussions about the dangers that exist out there,” said Lillian Silva. “This youth-led town hall allows a safe space for the youth voices to discuss this topic and inform the community about the impacts on mental health and the consequences of Fentanyl poisoning.”

Through their tremendous work with the California Youth Empowerment Network, our youth have engaged with other Transition Age Youth (TAY) from all over the state on youth advocacy and uplifting youth voice. Through the work youth participants have learned and have seen the negative impacts of fentanyl in the community. The opportunity to collaborate with the California Youth Empowerment Network has provided the much-needed resources to be able to share this information via a youth-led virtual town hall presentation. 

On Wednesday, May 18, 2022 at 5:00pm, a youth-led virtual town hall event will allow Youth Alliance youth to discuss and bring awareness on a very important community issue about Fentanyl Awareness. Community members, youth, parents, and decision-makers will be joining the efforts that day to ensure the health and safety of our youth are at the forefront of priorities.

Guests will be able to join us In-Person or Virtually.

Watch Party (In-Person): We will be having a Watch Party (in-person) at The Neon Exchange, located at 7365 Monterey Rd, Gilroy, CA 95020. There will be food from 4pm to 5pm and the town hall will be displayed in a projector for all to watch starting at 5 pm. 


Watch Virtually (Online): Guests who are not able to attend can still join us online. They can register here to get the link and watch the youth-led fentanyl town hall event virtually. 


To join our youth programming please see below for more information:

Jóvenes Unidos Wednesdays from 5pm-6pm please contact Sam Bass – sam@youthall.org

Leaders in Training (LIT) please contact Lillian Silva – lillian@youthall.org

CAYEN Youth Sessions please connect with Rene Casas – rene@youthall.org

To learn more about Youth Alliance please connect with Rene Casas, Director of Policy at Youth Alliance – rene@youthall.org


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About Leaders In Training

In collaboration with the County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services, Youth Alliance’s program Leaders In Training (LIT) is a leadership development program that provides youth with the opportunity to work on leadership and youth empowerment. The program encourages and prepares youth to be leaders within their community.

Leaders In Training (LIT) is committed to providing youth with an empowering experience, encouraging and preparing youth to be leaders within their community. Youth can become involved by attending virtually or in person occurring every Thursday at 5pm. Ages 12 – 19. For information about Leaders In Training, please contact Lillian Silva – lillian@youthall.org

About Youth Alliance

Youth Alliance (YA) is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit serving youth and their families in San Benito County, and South Santa Clara County, CA that strives to create thriving and equitable communities through comprehensive, innovative and culturally relevant services that equip youth and families to become change agents in their own lives and in their community. The agency was founded in 1995 and began as a grassroots effort of committed volunteers and has evolved into an agency that had over 2,000 members and reached over 50,000 children, youth, and their families in 2020-2021.

YA’s mission is to assist young people in developing skills so that they can contribute to the social and economic betterment of their community. Our guiding principle is to provide culturally competent services to empower and enrich the families we serve while working as a model for collaboration and advocacy. For information about Youth Alliance, visit youthall.org

About California Youth Empowerment Network (CAYEN)

The California Youth Empowerment Network (CAYEN) was formed to develop, improve and strengthen the voice of Transition Age Youth (TAY) in local and state-level policy. CAYEN engages youth and young adults who have been touched in some way by the mental health, juvenile justice or foster care systems. They are passionate people – consumers, family members and friends of people living with a mental illness.

They are firm believers that their personal experience, education and employment give them a credible, passionate and true voice to the challenges and successes of the TAY population. Through CAYEN they receive the support, training and skills to bring their voices to policy and program discussions. For information about Youth Alliance, visit ca-yen.org

Youth-led Group Embracing History of Civil Liberties at Indian Canyon

Hollister, May 11, 2022 — There was something about the welcoming song that made us feel safe and welcomed while we gathered in a circle. Kanyon’s voice projected the love, sacrifices, and beautiful history of Indian Canyon that provided an invitation into the past allowing us to connect to the sacred land that is Indian Canyon. 

As part of a grant from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, youth had the opportunity to participate in a visit to Indian Canyon, a sacred ceremonial site for local indigenous people. Here, youth were immersed into this space by Kanyon “Coyote Woman” Sayers-Roods as she greeted the group of youth with a song passed down from her ancestors. 

Kanyon “Coyote Woman” Sayers-Roods is Costanoan Ohlone and Chumash; she is proud of her heritage and her native name and is very active in the Native Community. “Indigenous peoples are everywhere,” says Kanyon. “There are beautiful rich histories everywhere. Predominantly it is place-based knowledge. That Place-based knowledge informs us. Place-based knowledge of our relationship to the environment and our ancestors. Indian Canyon serves as a safe haven for indigenous peoples everywhere and it is one step that we can reconnect to this land.”

Sam Bass, one of the Youth Alliance organizers who participated with youth during the visit to Indian Canyon said, “It was unlike any connection I’d ever felt before. There was a moment of stillness where we all felt unified as we heard Kanyon’s song.”

The opportunity to take youth out into the community and visit places like Indian Canyon was one of the culminating events that Youth Alliance was able to get back to after the pandemic hit. Providing this experience and oral histories to local youth is just another way to inspire and empower the next generation. “Providing our young leaders these opportunities allows them to understand how interconnected we all are and how we should learn from one another in order to move forward collectively,” said Rene Casas, the projects coordinator and current Director of Policy at Youth Alliance. 

The project seeks to have youth at the forefront of civil liberties conversations and have them engage with local residents, organizations, and leaders on various topics. The first topic covered by the project was the Japanese internment on the Central Coast and its civil liberties impact. The project also included intergenerational conversations and historical research about the School-to-Prison Pipeline, Immigration, and our Native Communities on how they have been directly impacted by civil injustices. 

“By bringing them into this space, we create an opportunity for young people to have a deeper role in engaging in conversations with elders and communities that have been directly impacted by civil injustices. The oral history of our Central Coast histories is a way for our youth to understand and connect local history with the current struggles for civil rights,” said Diane Ortiz, CEO of Youth Alliance.

Riana Gutierrez, a Youth Engagement Advocate with Youth Alliance who participated in the visit, spoke about what this visit meant to the youth group.

“Being a youth advocate assists our youth in developing their skills in education, social justice, and health. We want them to advocate for positive change in their world,” said Riana Gutierrez. “Providing them an opportunity to visit Indian Canyon for the first time and to learn about the history is instrumental in getting them to engage in civil liberties. This makes them realize how much they mean to their community and how they are the future leaders of tomorrow!”

Diane Ortiz, a strong supporter of civil liberties education, said, “Through this Civil Liberties grant, Youth Alliance is able to promote understanding, compassion, and intergenerational healing by engaging community youth. By visiting important historical sites like Indian Canyon and sitting in conversation with elders like Mas Hashimoto who lived through the Japanese Internment we hope to connect the past to the present fight for justice. We know there is much work to be done and investing in our youths capacity to lead this work is what YA is all about.

Through the California Civil Liberties Program, Youth Alliance was able to establish pathways of healing and opportunity for local youth to be engaged in educational activities and build skills about civil rights. Youth Fellows and other young leaders lead intergenerational efforts to educate and discuss historical and current civil liberties violations and rights. The project worked to inspire the next generation of youth to continue the open dialogue about civil liberties in a safe and meaningful way. This deeper understanding of history and civil liberties on the Central Coast teaches our youth to continue the dialogue towards intergenerational conversations with elders and other communities directly impacted by civil injustices.


To learn more about Youth Alliance, please visit: youthall.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and on our podcast “Our Voices” available on Spotify.

If interested in joining the youth coalition contact Alanah Martinez – alanah@youthall.org

To learn more about our current project or to learn more about Youth Alliance please connect with Rene Casas – rene@youthall.org


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About Indian Canyon

Indian Canyon–a wooded area nestled in the Gavilan Range, 15 miles south of Hollister, CA–is the only federally recognized “Indian country” between Sonoma and Santa Barbara. During the 17 and 1800’s Indian Canyon served as a safe haven for the local indigenous peoples who were being abducted/recruited/bribed/transported to the Missions with the Spaniards. The local Ohlone peoples knew the terrain and were able to traverse the territory into the secluded valley of Indian Canyon. Since then Indian Canyon has remained a safe haven, currently Ann-Marie Sayers and her daughter have opened up the Canyon for all Indigenous Peoples in need of land for ceremony.

About California Civil Liberties Program

The California Civil Liberties Public Education Program (California Civil Liberties Program) is a state-funded grant project of the California State Library. The California Civil Liberties Program funds projects that educate the public about civil liberties injustices carried out against communities and individuals in the past as well as today. The grant program supports the creation and dissemination of educational and public awareness resources concerning the history and the lessons of civil rights violations or civil liberties injustices carried out against communities or populations. These include, but are not limited to, civil rights violations or civil liberties injustices that are perpetrated on the basis of an individual’s race, national origin, immigration status, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

About Youth Alliance

Youth Alliance (YA) is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit serving youth and their families in San Benito County, and South Santa Clara County, CA that strives to create thriving and equitable communities through comprehensive, innovative and culturally relevant services that equip youth and families to become change agents in their own lives and in their community. The agency was founded in 1995 and began as a grassroots effort of committed volunteers and has evolved into an agency that had over 2,000 members and reached over 50,000 children, youth, and their families in 2020-2021.

YA’s mission is to assist young people in developing skills so that they can contribute to the social and economic betterment of their community. Our guiding principle is to provide culturally competent services to empower and enrich the families we serve while working as a model for collaboration and advocacy.

© Copyright 2014 Youth Alliance

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