Volunteers of America to Host Third Annual Youth Mental Health Expo

Contact: Nicholle Granger

January 17, 2024 | Lanham, md

Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas (VOACC), The Prince George’s County Health Department, the Bowie State University Graduate Student Association, and STEP Forward will be facilitating The Greatest of All Time (G.O.A.T.) Youth Mental Health Expo 2024 on Saturday, May 18, 2024 from 8:30AM – 3:30PM at Bowie State University. The only expo of its kind, this third annual event will focus on providing resources and best practices to support the mental health and wellness of youth ages 16 – 24 and their caregivers in Prince George’s County, MD. 

The G.O.A.T. Expo was created in direct response to the nation-wide youth mental health crisis and healthy disparities among youth from communities that identify as Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). The 2023 expo brought together over 600 individuals, including 370 youth and families, 50 exhibitors, and 22 speakers and performers. Building off of this success, the 2024 G.O.A.T. Expo will showcase exhibitors, educational workshops, live entertainment, interactive activities, open mic, dance contest and more. 

“Empowering our youth is not just a responsibility, but a necessity. As we gather for the 3rd annual G.O.A.T Youth Mental Health Expo, let us continue to sow the seeds of resilience and hope. Together, we’re not just shaping minds but building bridges to brighter tomorrows. Join us as we champion mental health awareness and provide the compass guiding our youth toward wellness and strength.”

– Dr. Sheryl Neverson, SVP of Clinical Strategy at VOA Chesapeake & Carolinas

“We are excited to be entering our third year of true collaboration and commitment with such great community partners. As the County’s Acting Health Officer, my mission is to improve, promote and preserve the health and wellness of all Prince Georgians.  The pandemic was a harsh reminder that we must prioritize our health and that includes the mental health of our youth.  Behavioral health is public health, and we must educate our residents about mental health illness, substance abuse, crisis prevention, and intervention strategies and treatment services available to them in their communities.  The G.O.A.T Expo is our first step to early intervention and saving lives for our youth.”

-Dr. Sanmi Areola, Acting Health Officer for the Prince George’s County Health Department

Incorporating youth voices in the roll out of this year’s expo will be integral to its reach and impact. In addition to hosting the expo on its campus, Bowie State University’s Graduate Student Association will play an important role in involving student groups and promoting youth engagement. 

“GSA is happy to be a partner of the G.O.A.T Youth Mental Health Expo for another amazing year. With so much going on in our world today, education around mental health and wellness is top priority on our list as college students. As leaders in the education system, GSA must give back in creative ways to capture the attention of our next generation of leaders. Malcolm X once said, ‘Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.’”

-Michael McGee, a pre-licensed counselor and Former President of the Bowie GSA

As a collaborative effort driven by the community, The G.O.A.T. Expo would not be possible without funding support from generous leaders in the community. Leading the charge this year is Luminis Health as the expo’s 2024 Youth Mental Health Champion sponsor.

“Luminis Health is excited to support this unique event for the youth and families of Prince George’s County. State and national surveys consistently show that our children are dealing with significant amounts of sadness, stress and contemplation of suicide. The GOAT Youth Mental Health Expo makes it clear that our youth and their families are not alone, that there are partners here to help to improve lives. Luminis Health has invested millions to expand behavioral healthcare in Prince George’s County. Our Behavioral Health Pavilion in Lanham provides culturally responsive, evidence-based care. Beginning this summer, we’re partnering with the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission and Prince George’s County Publics Schools to implement comprehensive behavioral health screenings, education, and navigation at six high schools. We invite you to join us at the Expo to explore what we have to offer and to bring a friend along with you.”

-Dr. Aliya Jones, Executive Medical Director of Behavioral Health at Luminis Health

This year’s expo is also made possible through funding from Prince George’s County District 4 Councilwoman Ingrid Watson, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Wellpoint, August Rose Health Center, Community Crisis Services Inc, the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services, and many others.

To learn more about the 2024 G.O.A.T. Expo, become a sponsor, exhibitor, volunteer or register, visit thegoatexpo.com.

About Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas

Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas (“VOACC”) is a faith-based, nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire self-reliance, dignity, and hope through housing, health and human services.

At VOACC, we have been helping to create Healthy Communities for All for over 128 years by aligning housing, health and human services. We actively pursue health equity by filling the gap in housing and care for underserved populations, including those who are experiencing homelessness, low-income, underinsured or uninsured, justice-involved and veterans. By offering integrated housing and care, we address the social determinants that impact the long-term stability for those in need.

Through a dedicated team of management, staff and volunteers who are guided by our Core Values – Visionary, One Body, Integrity, Compassion, Excellence, and Faith – we are the safety net for thousands of men, women and children each year across Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia and the Carolinas. We operate over 49 programs focused on 8 areas of service: homeless services, affordable housing, mental health, substance use recovery, intellectual/developmental disabilities services, community re-entry, veteran services and workforce development.

VOACC has over 900 staff members and more than 2,000 volunteers. The organization helps over 11,700 individuals and families every year from Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia and the Carolinas. For more information on VOACC, please visit www.voachesapeake.org.

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