Protest, Movement Building, and Mental Health: A Conversation with Young Leaders

The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers set off a wave of protests across the nation. Movements for racial, social, and economic justice are often led by young people who put their energy, creativity, and bodies on the line for change. How does witnessing injustice impact young people’s mental health? How do protest and movement building support healing? What more is needed to care for young people’s well-being in a time of uprisings for racial justice? This panel will explore these questions and more with young movement leaders who are advancing justice and healing in their communities. Watch the live stream:



Hernán Carvente Martinez is a social entrepreneur, community organizer, and leader in the fight to end youth incarceration. Currently, he works as the National Youth Partnership Strategist for the Youth First Initiative, a national campaign focused on closing youth prisons and reinvesting that money into community alternatives. He manages the Youth First Youth Leaders Network, which provides young emerging leaders with the training and tools to lead the fight against youth incarceration. He is also an advisor to the Credible Messenger Justice Center and serves as a board member for Community Connection for Youth. Previously, he worked as a Program Analyst at the Vera Institute of Justice, where he worked on policy analysis, program development, and elevated the voices of youth and families in statewide policy reform. He’s trained policymakers, researchers, non-profits, and professionals in probation, child welfare, juvenile justice and corrections on different approaches to centering and empowering directly impacted youth in policy advocacy, community organizing, and in creating a new vision for youth justice in America. He was awarded the “Spirit of Youth Award” by the Coalition for Juvenile Justice and the “Next Generation Champion for Change” award by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. He has a B.S. from John Jay College. Connect with him via LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @Carventehernan.


Jazmine Wildcat is entering her senior year at Riverton High School in Wyoming.  Even as a young person, she has spent most of her years advocating for equality and equity for others and ensuring that human kind and the Earth will be protected for future generations. As a 2017-2018 United National Indian Tribal Youth Earth Ambassador, a 2018-2019 UNITY 25 under 25 recipient, WeRNative Ambassador, and Generation Indigenous Ambassador, Jazmine continues to speak out the many issues that are important to her including bringing awareness of violence against our Native women and the need to protect our Indigenous sisters from becoming a statistic.  Jazmine has been an advocate for Native women since she organized a rally for the 2013 passage of VAWA.  As the 2018 outgoing Northern Arapaho Powwow Princess, she held an event to bring awareness of our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Being diagnosed with depression and anxiety, Jazmine founded the Nii’iini Project, which focuses on helping others become more involved in their community and become activists to make change, which has helped her as a coping mechanism.  The Project was created to give youth another outlet to express themselves and offer an additional  conduit to keeping mentally healthy. She was named a Center for Native American Youth 2020 Champion for Change which has since allowed her to continue her work in the mental health arena and help youth across the country.

Lashon Amado is the national coordinator of community action teams for Opportunity Youth United, a national grassroots movement of opportunity youth and their adult allies seeking to alleviate poverty in their community through civic engagement. After being “pushed out” of high school, Lashon received a second chance to get back on track by attending his local YouthBuild program. After completing the program, Lashon went on to receive his master’s degree from Northeastern University. He is now an emerging social entrepreneur, with a vision to empower young people across the globe to be change agents in their community. Lashon is also the founder of an international project, Projecto Mas Um Chance (Project One More Chance), an emerging social enterprise seeking to address the youth unemployment crisis in Cabo Verde.