In this five-part series, I am looking back at some of the moments that capture my time here in the CHSAA office. The past year has been an opportunity to help grow the spotlight on Colorado high school activities. Esports, Student Leadership, Speech & Debate, and Music are the areas in which I am proud to work directly. I want to thank our Activities/Athletic Directors, advisors, judges, coaches, and student participants. Every activity has given me a “moment” so it has been hard to choose the stories to share this week; However, these stories should give you an idea of what the past year has been like for me. While I am taking a moment to look back, it is also a great time to look ahead. Each of these activities has a very bright future. Thank you all for making my first year at CHSAA such an amazing experience.
Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to MC the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) “Out of the Darkness” 5k Walk. According to their website, The “Out of the Darkness” Community Walk is a journey of remembrance, hope, and support. It unites our communities and provides an opportunity to acknowledge the ways in which suicide and mental health conditions have affected our lives and the lives of those we love and care about.” For me, it has been a 10-year journey, a cause I hold near and dear, and an event that grounds me in the work that I do. All of this to share with you a story of one Colorado teenager who has the same passion to bring more awareness to mental health resources, specifically suicide prevention.
One of my favorite Colorado high school students is actually someone I met before she even walked the halls of Riverdale Ridge High School. At the time, Jessina Amaya was the reigning International Junior Miss Colorado Pre-Teen. She was at the “Out of the Darkness” Walk to help promote the message of suicide prevention awareness and the devastating impact that suicide has on her age demographic. It was by chance that I stopped to interview this high energy pre-teen. When she shared her message over the PA system with all of the walk participants and our online listeners, you couldn’t help but be moved. After her interview, I remember telling her how amazing she was and how I looked forward to seeing her continue to impact others. Jessina has continued to share the message of hope, belonging, and taking care of each other in all that she does.
Jessina’s passions are centered on the work she does to promote suicide prevention and pancreatic cancer awareness. To understand the impact of sucicide, Jessina cites the one statistic that educators know all too well, In Colorado, suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24 (Colorado | AFSP). This is an alarming statistic, and one that Jesssina wants to make sure we are sharing with as many people as we can. With pancreatic cancer, that is one that hits closer to home, as her grandmother was diagnosed not too long ago.
Jessina Amaya is a member of the Ravens Poms team, she is a Folklorico dancer, and a member of the Girl Scouts.
For someone so involved in helping people today, Jessina is also very focused on her own future. Her main goal includes attending college in California; Earning a doctorate somewhere in the health field. She would also like to continue singing and dancing, as she tells me “it feeds her soul.” Jessina is also looking forward to learning to live on her own.
I am honored to have met Jessina and to call her a friend. As a person of influence who is using her platform to empower others to do great things, she is truly a hero and a role model. These are the attributes that I strive to bring to my role as a CHSAA Assistant Commissioner. If you are a school who is looking for a student to speak on the issues that Jessina is passionate about, I highly recommend that you reach out to her.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or a crisis, please reach out immediately to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. *These services are free and confidential.