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Teen raises mental-health awareness with club award

Laine Spurlock of Rio Rancho poses with her certificate and trophy after winning the state Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year award. She’ll now compete for the Southwest regional title in Dallas in June. That winner will go on to the national competition.
(Courtesy photo)


Laine Spurlock, a junior at Rio Rancho High School, recently earned a $6,000 scholarship and the title of the Youth of the Year, presented by the Boys & Girls Club of Central New Mexico.

Spurlock has many goals, not only within the Boys & Girls Club, but within the education and health system.

As someone who has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, Spurlock said there is more to be done with the counseling and treatment of young people who are suffering in their mental health.

“There are a lot of kids out there that don’t have the access to someone to talk to,” she said. “Schools don’t really provide that at all, in my aspect.

“I have to be on a contract at my school to be seen by a social worker, and sometimes I forget to go because I’m busy with school —or sometimes I have depression and anxiety, and I’ve been diagnosed with that at a very young age,” she continued. “I don’t feel brave enough to actually go and talk to a social worker, and I think that schools need to be more prominent and more like, ‘Hey, I’m going to call this kid in.’

Spurlock put a lot of time and energy into being successful with the Boys & Girls Club. She said Youth of the Year is a big accomplishment and that when she found out she was nominated, she knew she had to be successful with it.

“Getting a scholarship out of this is really incredible,” Spurlock said. “It is $6,000 and I know that that can be my startup for college, because no one in my family has gone to a university-level college, just community or none. I want to be the first person to go to a university, get a degree and start a career.”

Christian Naea, the Boys & Girls Clubs chief program officer, helped coach Spurlock to be successful in the Youth of the Year competition.

“She has been here a long time. She is a leader within the club, and we saw potential for her to further her education, because Youth of the Year is a scholarship competition,” Naea said.

A member of the club for over 12 years, Spurlock said she has seen tremendous change in the Boys & Girls Club. She said she is proud of her club and the renovations to make it better for future members.

“A long-term goal is to make sure that every kid that comes through is happy and healthy, and that they are safe in their home environment and safe in their community,” Spurlock said.

At the club, she lends an ear to youth who need to talk.

“Some of the teens struggle through a lot of things and they come to me,” she said. “I’m their peer, and I’m also staff to them. They know I’m a trusted person that they can come and talk to. That is something that I am really grateful for, that I can level with them in some sense.”