Teen ambassador Joseph Montez has found Project Worth to be well worth his time participating in the program the past five years.
“I like meeting other teens and doing community service,” said Montez, a 17-year-old senior at Travis Early College High School. “But my most favorite memory of being in the program was when I spoke in front of City Council about Tobacco 21.”
Montez was among a dozen teens who gathered on a recent Saturday morning under a pavilion at South Side Lions Park for a monthly meeting for teen ambassadors who participate in Project Worth. The Metro Health program promotes the health and emotional well-being of children and teens through education, collaboration and empowerment.
“Teen ambassadors primarily promote the DreamSA initiative, which is part of Project Worth, and encourage other youth to get involved with volunteer opportunities and make peer connections with other teens across the city,” said Meredith Howe, Project Worth program coordinator.
During their meeting, the teens focused on mental health and emotional wellness through several hands-on activities. First, they each were given a small, ceramic plate and colored markers and could write any negative comments they had ever been told about themselves.
“They all had a lot to say,” Howe said. “They had time to reflect on those negative experiences.”
The next activity involved taking a “reflection walk” around the park to express their feelings with one another.
After returning to the pavilion, they took their ceramic plates and smashed them in a designated safe area as a symbol of releasing any hurt or negative impact that unkind words might have affected them. Then they were handed a small, square canvas and paint to create a beautiful picture using some of those shattered pieces.
For 17-year-old Emerald Alaniz, the weekend gathering was a fun opportunity to be among her fellow ambassadors and friends and catch up after a challenging year because of the pandemic.
“Mental health is so important for us, especially right now since we have all had to deal with a COVID scare and experiencing a lockdown,” the Jefferson High School student said. “Now we get to be around other people again.”
The teen ambassadors also heard from guest speaker Ámbar Ríos of UT Teen Health, who shared their free and confidential mental health resource called Project YES.
To learn about becoming a teen ambassador, visit sanantonio.gov/ProjectWorth or call (210) 207-8850.