New York State Recognizes Youth in Western New York for Inspirational Advocacy Efforts


New York State honors Rochester-based youth peer advocate Angela Colon-Rentas with 2022 ‘What’s Great in our State’ award Youth/Young Adult Awards.

This award recognizes youth with lived experience in mental health who have used their personal mental health knowledge and experiences to make a difference in their community.

Angela Colon-Rentas entered the juvenile justice system when she was 14 years old. This experience has helped shape her understanding of the supports needed to help young people succeed. She found an internal motivation to help others through similar situations and became a leader in the field of youth peer advocacy. Angela says her mental health experiences have inspired her to help other young people find hope in their lives. She is also a champion of culturally appropriate mental health treatments. It provides and advocates bilingual services and has encouraged the implementation of more diverse services for minority communities.

“Angela Colon-Rentas shows us ‘what’s great about our state’ by taking her past experience and using it as a driving force to help others deal with mental health issues,” said Commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health, Dr. Ann Sullivan. “Angela understands the importance of peer support and brings it to her work every day. We thank her for all the ways she works to improve and advocate for children’s mental health.

Angela received the award at the annual ‘What’s Great in our State 2022’ event on May 3rd. The celebration recognizes individuals and programs who successfully advance the cause of children’s mental health in New York State.

“My experiences in the juvenile system and as a member of the SWAT Youth Council changed my outlook on life. It taught me leadership skills and sparked in me the need to help others through my experiences. of life,” said Angela Colon Rentas. “Not everyone is privileged to have a positive role model in their life. I think my goal is to be that positive influence, to help others navigate mental health and move on. adulthood in a more optimistic way. My work with Compeer Rochester has given me the platform to do so. I am strongly committed to breaking the mental health stigma in minority communities and strive to be a ambassador and to set an example for new minority youth peer counselors for generations to come.

What’s great about our state?

The ‘What’s Great in Our State’ event was first launched in 2010 and is usually held during Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, a nationwide movement that raises awareness of the importance of children’s mental health. . The event includes a reading of Governor Kathy Hochul’s announcement proclaiming Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, a ceremony recognizing our honorees, and an art exhibit featuring artwork created by children receiving New York State mental health system services.

The event is sponsored by six New York State agencies and several child mental health advocacy organizations: the Office of Mental Health, Council on Children and Families, Department of Health , State Department of Education, Office of Child and Family Services and Office of Addiction Services and Supports, Early Care & Learning Council, Families Together in New York State, Inc., Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc., National Alliance on Mental Illness – New York State, New York State Network for Youth Success, Prevent Child Abuse New York, Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, Inc. and the Suicide Prevention Center of New York .

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