OnTrackNY October 2020 Newsletter: Changing the Game

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Welcome to our Fall 2020 issue of Changing the Game, our quarterly newsletter developed for and by our own OnTrackNY community! OnTrackNY, both as a model and as a community of teams, participants, families, graduates, and OnTrackNY Central staff, is certainly Changing the Game by shifting conversations about mental health recovery to focus on what matters most to individuals and families experiencing early psychosis, especially now.

We are excited to feature an awesome interview with the Peer Specialist of IFH in the Bronx, Stephanie Colon. We also share a brief description by Alice Saperstein, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry Columbia University Irving Medical Center, of a new service being offered by some OnTrackNY teams to promote cognitive health called Brain Gym. Youth Coordinator, Denzel (DJ) Wilkerson offers a compelling article about his thoughts on voting as well as a brief description of the recent research on Health Promotion services of OnTrackNY by Ana Stefancic, PhD, Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center who connected with DJ, Talia, and our Downstate Youth and Young Adult Leadership Council for input. We are also excited to announce the launching of three new OnTrackNY original short films.

Click on the title of this post for a donwloadable version of the newsletter 

On Voting: Thoughts From our Youth Coordinator DJ Wilkerson

Helpful Links and Resources Included

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My thoughts on voting

In a year of many firsts for me, I will have my first voting experience for the primary election. Though I have only been eligible for 1 previous primary, I’ve never wanted or felt need to cast my ballot. I’ve always had a, “whatever happens, will” way of looking at things with little to no hope that my influence would make much of any difference. Our previous election only helped to solidify that thought for me. “So, if my mindset hasn’t changed in that aspect, then what’s inspiring me to participate?” That’s a question I ask myself several times a day and I’ll probably continue to ask myself even after the results this year. So far, I’ve realized 3 things that have changed my perspective of the political game.

1.      I’m getting older.

I used to not care about the outcome of elections, the outrage of political theater, or the lasting effects of chosen candidates because I was too young to be affected or too removed to notice. Issues like taxes and insurance weren’t anything I had to think about, and I moved through my environment only noticing changes that had direct and immediate effects on my life. The need for voting was only explained in school at a surface level. “Your vote counts” are words I’m all too familiar with and they still didn’t move me until I found out why it should matter.

2.      Policies over personnel

I found out that I can change procedures rather than people. I never had much faith in candidates because I’ve never found anyone that I totally agree with. I’ve never subscribed to the lesser of two evils approach that keeps me idling in a state of discontent. I’d rather put my voice towards issues. With my vote I can possibly change how we handle things as a nation rather than how one person views it. Either way I’m going to make my voice known.

3.      I’ve activated my activism

Fighting against the deeply entrenched and systemic issues that plague the country is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and continue to do. It still feels hopeless sometimes when I think about how much I’m really up against but, support is a powerful thing. Attending protests, rallies, and sit-ins have changed my state of mind and reinvigorated me in ways that I didn’t know were possible. Being a part of a large, diverse collective with similar goals in mind is one of the strongest feelings I’ve ever experienced and, when the collective is big, vocal, and strong, there’s no way it can be ignored. Dedicating my time to different movements has made me challenge myself to never be complacent and always use my voice as long as I have it. 

Don’t miss the opportunity to cast your critically important vote in this year’s election!

Here are some great resources recently shared through the NYAPRS E-News. is a nonpartisan non-profit organization that is offering a treasure trove of information to help you vote in the upcoming fall election on their website, at, including

  • See if you’re registered to vote: &a

Drew: The Rhythm of Recovery

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Drew began hearing voices during his first year of college. Joined by his family, Drew tells his story of recovery and becoming a peer specialist at OnTrackNY.