Youth Voices Matter NY, a new youth-driven movement created by the Youth Peer Recovery team of FOR-NY, has been traveling throughout the state meeting with young people in recovery willing to serve as Youth Leaders in their communities. These leaders will be reaching out to their peers to offer assistance and help address which resources, services and supports are needed for young people in recovery. One of their tasks will be planning fun, youth-driven events called “Pop-Ups” to promote health and wellness while expressing the unique and diverse flavors of each community. On December 12th the first major Pop-Up took place at the Graham School (for Graham Windham Services) where Youth Voices Matter NY and the non-profit organization Road Recovery joined forces for an interactive, youth-driven music concert & dance. This historical event launching the youth movement demonstrated some of the pathways in which young people overcome personal struggles while offering solutions to live a meaningful and purposeful life, free from active addition and other adversities.

As one of the many Youth Leaders in this movement, Zachary Cohn states “when I was in the grips of active addiction, I thought I was completely alone and isolated from the world; no one could ever understand why I felt so defeated and lost. Today, I realize I was never alone. I just didn’t know there were others who felt the same as I did. It’s a real privilege to meet with my peers across the state who identify with those feelings and are willing to offer their support to others who feel the same. We’ve received so much interest from youth and young adults to provide safe, sober spaces for other young people in recovery; places where we can empower each other and feel a sense of belonging and acceptance.”

Youth Voices Matter NY is currently developing a toolkit. This publication will offer how-to instructions and strategies being utilized by other developing communities of young people to build their own local “Youth Recovery Clubs.” Planning Pop-Ups and other activities that will attract more young people and amplify youth voices are some of the subjects that will be covered. Its release is scheduled for some time after the new year. Developing YRCs will provide many types of resources and supports to communities that will lead to positive change in people’s lives.

To stay up-to-date on the on-going activities of the youth movement, please visit the newly-established social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, developed in partnership with Road Recovery.