To kick off Mental Health Awareness Month in May, Young Minds Advocacy is hosting our 3rd Annual Creative Advocacy — a celebration to support local artists, counter stigma, and honor mental health advocates who change lives.

This year, we’re honoring Kijafa and Laura, co-founders of the Seneca Youth Advisory Board. These two have turned collaboration into action, improving the lives of young people in and beyond their communities.

The Seneca Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is led by current and former Seneca clients who promote change by empowering their communities and the youth within them. Together, Laura and Kijafa lead and maintain much of the Seneca YAB’s efforts around youth development, mentorship, and engagement: this duo frequently collaborates with local and statewide mental health stakeholders, evaluates the fidelity of youth voice within Seneca’s programs, and supports Youth Advisory Board members.

Kjiafa is no stranger to youth empowerment — for over six years, she has served as a mental health clinician and youth advocate at Seneca Family of Agencies, which provides residential and community-based mental health services. Kijafa is an unwavering supporter of Seneca’s young advocates. Her commitment to these young people comes to life in the Youth Advisory Board’s dozens of successful youth-driven initiatives, including youth testimony before stakeholders, peer education, and engagement across diverse communities around mental health and healing.

Kijafa’s expertise has been invaluable to the community. She provides trainings on crisis communication, multiculturalism, permanency, and trauma-informed behavioral interventions. She also serves as the Community Innovation Manager at Seneca’s San Francisco Connections — a program offering family-centered, individualized, and culturally relevant supports to youth and families.

“I have worked with youth for the last decade and found the stories of foster youth to be particularly powerful,” said Kijafa. “Youth who are able to access success in spite of all the odds, even if there is only one mentor or motivation to do so, keep me coming back to the work.”

Laura Tate is a youth intern and advocate at Seneca. She draws from her experience with the foster care system as a child, and is passionate about calling attention to trauma-informed practices and interventions for system-involved young people. At just 19, Laura’s wisdom and spirit have uplifted many of her colleagues at Seneca, and many more beyond. By sharing her own experiences, addressing trauma and honoring self-care, she has inspired several Seneca youth to “speak truth to power” and spark mental health reform within their own communities, schools, and neighborhoods.

Kijafa says she has watched Laura evolved from a quiet, shy, cautious youth to a vibrant, articulate leader. “Seeing how [Laura] can re-channel her trauma to be informative, and in the name of advocacy, is powerful and inspires me.”

Laura is a tremendous orator and organizer. Over the past three years, she has been instrumental in training newly hired Seneca staff, foster parents, and social workers on how to increase positive engagement with youth coalitions and individuals. Her approach to advocacy is warm, incisive, and honest, and we know she will go on to inspire and impact many others.

“I do this work for the kids coming up behind me,” said Laura. “Through training, I can help contribute to a broken system and make a difference in the lives of others.”

We’re so excited to celebrate these two incredible advocates, and we hope you’ll join us in shouting out their accomplishments at Creative Advocacy 2018!

Who else will we be recognizing for their advocacy efforts? Stay tuned for more updates on our Creative Advocacy 2018 Event Page and buy tickets here!

Join The Party!

To kick off Mental Health Awareness Month in May, Young Minds Advocacy is hosting our 3rd Annual Creative Advocacy — a celebration to support local artists, counter stigma, and honor mental health advocates who change lives!

Join us as we continue to reveal our 2018 Creative Advocacy Awardees — youth and adult leaders who work tirelessly to improve young people’s wellness. We’ll have an art exhibit, live music, raffle, food and drinks, and a photo booth for guests to enjoy.

In past years, Creative Advocacy has brought together several hundred community members and featured hundreds of pieces of youth art. This year will be even more impactful!

Check out the event:

Buy tickets:

We hope to see you there!


Saturday, April 28, 2018 | 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM PDT | Add to Calendar

SOMArts Cultural Center | 934 Brannan Street | San Francisco, CA 94103 | View Map

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Young Minds Advocacy
Posted by the Editors of Hear Me Out.