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Wake student speaks up for mental health

Avery Thatcher winner of McIntyre Youth Leadership ChallengeAvery Thatcher, a seventh-grade student at Wake Forest Middle School Student, was chosen as the winner of The McIntyre Youth Leadership Challenge and gave her presentation at the Law Day luncheon, where she discussed mental health challenges in schools and the community and how Monarch’s services are helping to meet a tremendous mental health need. Thatcher was honored with a monetary donation, in her name, to the charity of their choice – and she selected Monarch, which has five behavioral health outpatient offices in Wake County.

The McIntyre Youth Leadership Challenge, established by Poyner Spruill partner and former Congressman Mike McIntyre, is a new program designed to “light a fire in young people” to make positive changes in their own communities. The program was inaugurated before the North Carolina Court of Appeals during the recent Law Day celebration hosted in May by the North Carolina Bar Association in Raleigh.

Student participants were asked to consider a challenge they see in their local community, advocate for the necessity to mitigate that challenge, and then speak to the actions they would take upon returning to their community to lessen the impact of that challenge moving forward. The program began on March 24 when a group of students gathered from across the state to present before a panel of attorneys who volunteered to judge the competition. From that group of students, the four finalists were chosen and invited back to Raleigh on May 4 to present to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

The McIntyre Youth Leadership Challenge was established to provide opportunities for civic engagement and community leadership to students in high school. McIntyre stated, “It is our hope that this new Youth Leadership Challenge will light a fire in young people to demonstrate how through good citizenship, civic engagement and dynamic leadership, they can carry the torch forward and challenge themselves and others to discover new solutions to the problems their communities face.” McIntyre called the event a “huge success” and described the presentations given by the program’s “Final Four” students as “inspirational speeches about much-needed programs and projects in their communities where active civic engagement would make a difference.”

Pictured (l-r): Denaa Griffin, chair of the McIntyre Youth Leadership Challenge, Robin Henderson-Wiley, vice president-operations, behavioral health at Monarch, Avery Thatcher, Congressman Mike McIntyre and Daniel Brown, executive vice president/chief operating officer, behavioral health at Monarch.

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