Jóvenes Sanos

What is Jóvenes Sanos?

United Way of Santa Cruz County's Jóvenes SANOS (JS) is a Watsonville-based youth leadership group working to elevate youth voices to shift the stigma around mental wellness and increase youth access to mental health resources.

JS seeks to cultivate peer-to-peer connections and promote hope, healing, and resiliency to create a culture of health and thriving.




Prevention to Support Well-Being

Building youth’s capacity utilizing mental health frameworks to increase protective factors that buffer the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and connecting them to resources





Raising Awareness and Reducing Stigma 

Supporting youth in exploring their mental wellness by using culturally and linguistically appropriate strategies to promote peer-to-peer conversations around mental health and creating youth-led campaigns


 Hope, Healing, and Resiliency

Peer-to-Peer Connectedness 

Increasing opportunities for youth to connect in a positive and safe environment that supports their mental health and leadership development and honors their lived experiences and cultural identity

Benefits of Joining Jóvenes Sanos

  • You will learn about leadership, health, and your community

  • You will have the possibility of earning community service hours and stipends

  • You will make new friends and build positive relationships

  • You will gain essential skills and make your community a better place for all!


Jovenes SANOS is committed to providing resources for youth to successfully participate in community engagement. After 10 hours of commitment through community service with our program, youth are eligible to receive gift cards and/or stipends for their active participation in Jovenes SANOS community engagement activities. 


  • Attend weekly meetings

  • Work on projects based on your availability and interest

  • Attend team-building events

  • Be reliable and able to participate regularly

What we are up to

JS is collaborating with NAMI to create a youth-created curriculum for teachers and student leaders to lead discussions and events around mental health. They plan to host a Youth Mental Health Summit in March.

JS is continuing its partnership with DataShare to share the story behind the data and is currently working on a survey to engage families.

JS youth are participating in monthly meetings with UCSC professors, grad students, undergrads, and other youth from the county, where they are planning to begin conducting a research project surrounding the topic of Youth Mental Health

​​​​​​​The “Healing Through Nature'' will be a series of 2 events in partnership with Living Evolution focused on increasing youth's positive cultural identity, connections to nature, and peers to promote healing.

2022-2023 Events

The UCSC We Belong Project concluded with a community event held in Watsonville City plaza, where JS youth showcased their Photovoice projects!

JS collaborated with YAN and hosted a pop-up event on National Youth Day at the Watsonville Youth Center. The goal of this event was to connect youth with local resources and youth programs in order to teach them about stress-busting tools to increase their mental wellbeing as well as to provide them an opportunity to meet new people.

JS youth were able to take part in a 12-week program focused on promoting stress-busting tools and learning about nutrition, fitness, and mental wellness. Participating youth had the opportunity to apply for a scholarship funded by Envision Fitness at the end of the program.

JS youth participated in a leadership workshop led by Impact launch where they learned new designed tools and practiced speaking powerfully.



Jóvenes Sanos participated in the creation of a multilingual survey training to build capacity for creating surveys and analyzing data. The training will be shared with local community organizations.



We Belong is a community-initiated student-engaged research project that addresses these questions by documenting the experiences of immigrant families, their contributions, and the obstacles they face. We aim to elevate immigrant voices, strengthen local community coalitions, and generate actionable knowledge to improve social services and inform policies to ensure ALL community members belong and thrive.

UCSC interns mentor 8-10 Jóvenes Sanos youth and community college students, introducing them to community-based research and pathways to college, while Jóvenes Sanos youth provide guidance on community, youth, and public health issues as well as help with project outreach and recruitment.

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Jóvenes Sanos  created and led culturally relevant and engaging after-school peer-to-peer programming to promote various self-care and mindfulness strategies and help reduce stress among youth.


In May 2022, Jóvenes Sanos partnered with the Watsonville Library to host a week of awareness for Mental Health awareness month. Youth will create and lead  activities throughout the week and collaborate with NAMI Santa Cruz County to host an Ending the Silence workshop for families. 

Learn More


Our Funders 



National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Santa Cruz County Office of Education's 

Schools Integrated Behavioral Health Initiative (SIBHI)

Envision Fitness and Nutrition 

Living Evolution 

Watsonville Youth Center 

Youth Action Network 

UCSC Campus + Community










Jóvenes SANOS (@jovenes.sanos) • Instagram photos and videos

Stay in the know with JS!

Stay informed about current projects, events, and more in our quarterly newsletter.