267905 Youth Empowerment: Creating a New Generation of Policy Advocates in North Carolina

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 4:50 PM - 5:10 PM

Bronwyn Lucas, MPH , Central Office, Youth Empowered Solutions, Raleigh, NC
Meredith Ledford, MPP , Central Office, Youth Empowered Solutions, Raleigh, NC
Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!) works to address the unmet need for a holistic approach to adolescent population health that includes youth-adult partnerships and policy advocacy. The center of YES's work is the three-pronged Youth Empowerment Model that encourages young people to develop skills, gain critical awareness, and participate in opportunities that are necessary for creating community change. The first step is to strengthen the skills of youth so that they know how to effectively make decisions, positively interact with their peers and policy makers, and act as community advocates. Next, youth build critical awareness through the provision of information and resources necessary for analyzing issues that affect their lives and environments as well as strategize on ways to act as change agents in their communities. The final step involves identifying platforms for decision-making that encourages the active participation of youth in creating community change. This model has allowed the state of North Carolina to train over 4,000 youth as change agents in public health arenas and to build political alliances in order to create and sustain programs, practices, and policies that improve population and individual health in the state. Through the work of YES!, youth have an active voice with decision makers on committees, boards, and coalitions addressing active living and nutrition issues, access to school based health centers substance abuse prevention, and tobacco-use prevention. Their advocacy work has contributed to more than 20 local or statewide policy changes over a 4-year period throughout North Carolina.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Program planning
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the skills needed for youth to become key in political alliances addressing population health programs, practices, and policies. Identify areas in which youth can be integral players in building political alliances of population health programs, practices, and policies.

Keywords: Advocacy, Youth

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am one of the founding members and the current Executive Director of Youth Empowered Solutions.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.