Youth Leaders Speak

About the Digital Stories:

In 2010, GOJoven and the Center for Digital Storytelling’s Silence Speaks initiative began the Youth Leaders Speak project, which emphasizes the importance of personal narratives as tools for education, youth mobilization, and advocacy on behalf of adolescent sexual health and rights. Through the project, GOJoven and Silence Speaks led two digital storytelling workshops with selected GOJoven Fellows who came together in four-day sessions to record first-person accounts of what led them to the field of youth health, collect images and video clips with which to illustrate their stories, and learn how to edit these materials into the short videos presented here.

Terms of Use:

The spirit of Youth Leaders Speak is one of partnership and support for youth across Central America and globally. The storytellers generously offered their time and creativity to create these stories. Please feel free to share them, as long as you are not doing so for commercial purposes. When you share the stories, please remember to acknowledge GOJoven and Silence Speaks as the producers.

Sharing the Stories:

The content of many of the Youth Leaders Speak stories is very sensitive – they touch on issues like HIV and abortion stigma, grief and loss, and violence and abuse. They are not suitable for viewing by young children. GOJoven and Silence Speaks highly recommend that if you wish to screen the stories, you make use of the project’s “Guide for Facilitators,” which offers a wealth of useful information for how to integrate the digital stories starting point for sharing stories as tools for provider training, community health education, and advocacy related to improving adolescent sexual and reproductive rights. Our hope is that those who view these powerful stories will be inspired to take individual and collective action towards building safe and healthy communities.

If you’re thinking of screening these stories, please:


Jacinta Chan Pech, GOJoven Fellow, Mexico 2008
Jacinta, a young Mayan woman, grew up in an indigenous village in the countryside of Quintana Roo, Mexico. When she was 11, she was forced to move with her family to the city, where they faced [...]
Roberto Morales, GOJoven Fellow, Guatemala 2005
Roberto and his wife, both Mayans from rural Guatemala, lost a baby when they were in their teens, due to the lack of reproductive health education or adequate prenatal care in their [...]
Gabriela Flores Rodríguez, GOJoven Fellow, Honduras 2006
Although Gabriela grew up in a safe and happy environment, she always felt different from other girls. As a teenager, she fell in love with a friend and was consumed by insecurity, shame, and [...]
Omar Rodriguez, GOJoven Fellow, Belize 2006
Omar, a Mestizo man from rural Belize, has had a loving relationship with his mother throughout his life. He grew up thinking that he was a part of a perfect family, and only later learned about [...]
Nekeisha Lima, GOJoven Fellow, Belize 2011
Nekeisha is a young Belizean woman who became pregnant at an early age, due to a lack of information about sexuality and fertility. She speaks in her story about the life she used to lead as a [...]
David López , GOJoven Fellow, Guatemala 2005
David and his partner, an older man, were happy until discovering they were both HIV-positive.David had known little about the importance of safe sex. In his story, he tells of his efforts to [...]
Elisa Castellanos, GOJoven Fellow, Belize 2005
Coming from a family with strong cultural values about reproductive health, Elisa was faced with the challenge of an early pregnancy and limited options. She describes in her story the pain of [...]
Esther Barajas, GOJoven Fellow, Guatemala 2006
Esther, a young Mestiza woman from rural northern Guatemala, grew up enjoying school and hoping to get a doctorate in public health. She faced a number of challenges in pursuing her dreams, [...]
Errol Longsworth, GOJoven Fellow, Belize 2011
Errol’s childhood became a struggle when his father was laid off from his job. Errol’s father began drinking and using drugs, which left the family with little money for food and school tuition. [...]
Licda Alvarez, GOJoven Fellow, Honduras 2006
Licda grew up in poverty, in Honduras. She remembers in her story the way that women in her community were treated: with harsh words, persistent discrimination, and violence. After making the [...]
Alex Sorto, GOJoven Fellow, Honduras 2007
From a young age, Alex knew that he was gay but was unable to be completely open with his family members. He faced great fear and endured family hardships as a result of their response to his [...]
Gladys Maribel Puc Castillo, GOJoven Fellow, Mexico 2010
Gladys always felt alone and out of place, as a child and teenager. Her mother treated her poorly due to her dark skin color, saying she didn’t deserve an education. Gladys’ body image also [...]
Wilma Esquivel, GOJoven Fellow, Mexico 2007
Wilma, a young Mayan woman from Quintana Roo, Mexico, lived in poverty during her childhood. She looked up to her mother, who constantly supported Wilma and worked tirelessly so that she could [...]
Jorge Luis López, GOJoven Fellow, Guatemala 2011
Jorge grew up with his father’s parents, who verbally abused and beat his mother. When Jorge’s father returned home from the United States, he began to beat Jorge. In his story, Jorge talks about [...]