In the Spotlight

Clay Center Community High School Chapter

The Clay Center Community High School chapter of Youth Leaders in Kansas (YLinK) hosted a Community Commitment/ Courageous Conversations Night on November 14th at the Rex Theatre in Clay Center.The event provided a free dinner provided by a local restaurant, free childcare by the KSU Extension and Early Head Start teams, and many breakout sessions addressing youth mental health provided by local therapists. About $1,000 worth of door prizes were donated, and information booths provided education to the community about both mental resources and ways they can help support the youth of our community.

Here is a video the chapter created to open the evening:


State Circle of Excellence Award

Raegann McDonald

Raegann McDonald receives the State Circle of Excellence Award from KDADS Behavioral Health Services Commissioner Andrew Brown.

Raegann McDonald Receives Youth Leaders in Kansas (YLinK) State Circle of Excellence Award 

By Alessia Carrales | CCCHS Student | YLinK Member

On the beautiful morning of June 14th Clay Center’s Youth Leaders in Kansas (YLinK) chapter visited the YLinK State Conference in Salina. There, members had a chance to listen to two wise speakers talk of communication, resilience, leadership, and aiding those who are struggling; vital tools for the students' work.

Most notably, YLinK members were also taught how to do an in depth analysis of the state of our community—so that we can best aid it in our projects. Students were given an invaluable framework to ensure true sustainability and effectiveness in our actions.

Throughout the day members were gifted with great food, as well as amusing little fidget toys and gifts. Though much larger and more important than the Orbeez-stress balls, the CCCHS YLinK members were able to watch their president, Raegenn McDonald, receive the Circle of Excellence Award.

The Circle of Excellence Award is given to those who’ve had significant and major effects on the program, as well as truly reflected its intent. Raegann has proven herself more than worthy of this award, a quantitative measure being the 183% increase in YLinK members at CCCHS the past year, though her contributions list far more than just that.

In summary, the YLink State Conference left the kids from Clay Center with trinkets, an award, and valuable knowledge to better our community.

Clay Center Community High School Chapter

Isabelle Blackwood Selected to University of Oklahoma's Center for Youth Well-Being National Advisory Board

The Clay Center Community High School chapter of Youth Leaders in Kansas (YLinK) sponsored by The Clay Counts Coalition is pleased to announce that Vice President Isabelle Blackwood was recently selected to serve on the National Youth Advisory Board for the C4 Center for Youth Well-Being.

The C4’s Center for Youth Well-Being is based out of the University of Oklahoma. Miss Blackwood will participate in research being done on youth experiences in resiliency. This prevention study is one of the first of its kind to speak with and learn from youth and young adults about their experiences and ideas for prevention and intervention programming. 

According to Susie Reece, Director of Lived Experience Initiatives at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, “This is an opportunity for young advocates to work with an innovative team of researchers and experts on groundbreaking research that will change how to support and engage in youth prevention.”

In addition to her leadership role on the YLinK board, Miss Blackwood is also a three-sport athlete at CCCHS, an officer in FFA, involved in the school’s drama and music programs, and works for CARES, Inc (Canine Assistance, Rehabilitation, Education Services). “Izzy’s leadership and service as an advocate for others is proudly celebrated and valued by her fellow members of YLinK!” stated YLinK sponsor Lori Martin. “We are confident that she will make a positive impact, not only on this advisory board, but also in how prevention is approached on a national level!

2023 Annual Conference - Salina

2023 Conference Group Photo

On June 14, 2023, YLINK held its annual conference in Salina, Kan. More than 90 youth attended the event where we motivational speaker Bill Cordes spoke about the importance of being a good listener, using courage and gave tips about connecting with people through conversation. He used a very interactive approach that empowered attendees to have fun while also learning important life and leadership skills. 

Meg Hasselman from Kansas Prevention Headquarters presented a training that introduced ways to identify when peers are struggling, tips for how to support them, how to care for themselves after the fact, creating self-care plans, and tips and strategies for developing successful awareness projects.

Thank you to Aetna Better Health of Kansas for their generous donation of the meal and snacks and to United and Sunflower for funding for swag bags that included fidget toys, pens, sticky notes, tote bags, etc. Youth also received new YLINK shirts and water bottles.

We appreciate the support and sponsorship of all three MCOs in Kansas.

Wichita Northwest High Grizzlies for Change

Belle Plaine Dragons

Events & Activities

Youth Mental Health Advocacy Day

On March 7, 2023 more than 200 YLINK youth attended Youth Mental Health Advocacy Day at the Capitol. Youth visited with their legislators to share their concerns about mental health in Kansas. Six YLINK groups (aka STAND) were recognized on the House and Senate floors for their prevention work in their communities. All youth were recognized for their advocacy in behavioral health. They enjoyed a lunch sponsored by Carelon.

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Youth Mental Health Awareness Month

On April 28 youth from YLINK joined in the Governor in the signing of the Proclamation declaring May Month Health Awareness Month.

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Upcoming Events

  • Regional Meetings
    September 23
    Wichita, Kansas

    September 30, 2023
    Topeka West High School
    Topeka, Kansas