PUEBLO — The Pueblo community is coming together to make a positive impact on local youth. The effort is called the Pueblo Everyday Heroes Campaign and it kicked off today.
30 different partners and organizations are coming together to help with the campaign that's been two years in the making. They're now inviting adults in the community who want to be positive role models.
The goal? For teachers, coaches, parents and community members to be everyday heroes and help improve behavior, academic performance, and overall productivity.
"We really need those adult connections to keep us safe, to keep us engaged, to empower us to strive to do the things that the youth want to do in their lives," said Kristie Dorwart, with Health Solutions. "Given the COVID-19 pandemic, it really is important to have people in our lives that we can turn to and talk to."
The effort is in response to state data collected from middle and high school seniors on substance abuse and mental health. The health department studied that data and found alarming trends.
"We were noticing that those trends were moving in the wrong direction unfortunately so we definitely wanted to take note of that and take some action," said Jenny Case, with Pueblo Department of Public Health and Environment. "Youth are asked questions if they've used marijuana or drank alcohol in the past 30 days."
Case says, historically, substance abuse in Pueblo has been higher than the state level. Numbers haven't gone up in the past few years, but they're hoping to address that with the launch of the campaign because behavorial health has been a priority.
Data was also concerning when youth were asked about their mental health.
"Youth were reporting that they were purposely hurting themselves, that they were considering suicide. that they were feeling sad or hopeless," said Case.
For a local mom of a two year old, she hopes this will also encourage youth to make good choices.
"It takes a village. So whatever effort the community can put out, as far as positivty toward kids. It all counts," said Dana Guiberson. "A lot of decisions can be based on the people that kids are around, so positivity is always a a good thing and leadership is always important."
Some of the partnering organizations include Pueblo Community College, the Boys and Girls Club, local school districts and local nonprofit organizations.
If you'd like to be a mentor, you can sign up with the health department. The department is asking mentors to submit photos of them empowering and encouraging youth. Your story could be shared online.
For more information about Pueblo Everyday Heroes, click here.