Governor Lewis Hosts Annual Education Summit Through Virtual Sessions

Kyle Knox
Gila River Indian News


On Feb. 25, The Akimel O’odham/Pee-Posh Youth Council (AOPPYC) and Gila River Health Care’s Behavioral Health Services (BHS) began hosting Youth Mind Space sessions. The virtual sessions provide young Community members with a healthy outlet to learn and explore teen mental health through guided workshops led by the AOPPYC.


The effort began when the Community’s COVID-19 Task Force/Unified Command identified the need to support GRIC youth during the pandemic. 

“Youth Mind Space is seen as a way for youth to connect to one another, meet new people, and discuss topics affecting youth due to issues such as disruptions in schooling, feelings of isolation due to social distancing, and the general stress of the pandemic,” said Priscilla Foote, Chief Behavioral Health Officer for GRHC BHS.


Foote also praised the collaboration with AOPPYC and its young leaders. “Our Community’s youth knows what they want, and we are interested in trying new things to support one another. I know that the BHS team is grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with youth on this project for them.”


Youth Mind Space is hosted through the virtual platform Zoom. AOPPYC members lead the workshops with Behavioral Health Services staff. BHS Staff helps to formulate the discussion topics and to breakdown the science behind depression, anxiety, and clinical terms. BHS counselors are also in attendance in case anyone requires additional support throughout a session.


The Youth Mind Space collaboration also includes Gila River Broadcasting Corp. (GRBC) for media support. GRBC screens short videos during each session to establish the topic of the night and motivate the discussion that follows. 


Susanna Osife, AOPPYC President, says she enjoys the sessions and the support she feels from her peers. “The discussions are important because they’re about our experiences, how we’ve been affected during this time, what we go through,” said Osife. “When one person shares, it shows others that they’re not alone.” 


Osife also explained that the more young people share at the session, the more it empowers everyone to better recognize signs of depression better, listen to their peers, and provide necessary resources for those who need it.


Youth Mind Space occurs every Thursday from 8 p.m.- 9 p.m. through the Zoom application. Anyone interested in registering for future sessions should contact Anna Pacheco at or Michael Preston at