By Nathaniel Batiste, School-Based Health Alliance Youth Advisory Council Member on June 10, 2016
The National School-Based Health Care Convention is a time when professionals from across the school-based health field convene for training, networking, and advocacy. These tasks are equally important for youth, which is the purpose of the ‘Be the Change’ Youth Training Program. While this is not our first convention with a youth component, this year brought two major advances towards our mission of empowering and developing youth leaders. The first was the opportunity for potential presenters to submit workshop abstracts specifically targeted for building youth’s capacity to lead school-based health center (SBHC) efforts such as health campaigns, program planning, and outreach and promotion. The second was the Youth Advisory Council’s creation of the name ‘Be the Change’ Youth Training Program, which embodies the true purpose of this annual meeting. ‘Be the Change’ is an opportunity for youth to network with each other and school-based health care advocates, learn about and discuss health and education topics, develop advocacy and leadership skills, and overall, have fun.
This year’s ‘Be the Change’ workshops will cover various topics including youth advocacy, oral health equity, and reproductive health programming. The program will also offer a health care simulation activity that will allow youth to interact through role-play and gain a better understanding of the importance and benefits of SBHCs. I participated in the simulation last year and learned a great deal about the realities and challenges associated with accessing care outside of an SBHC. As a member of the School-Based Health Alliance’s Youth Advisory Council, I am excited to continue our mental health focus for this year by presenting with my fellow council members during our workshop, Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies: Promoting Mental Wellness in Youth.
With this year’s convention based in Arlington, Virginia, youth participants will have the opportunity to travel to Capitol Hill and meet with their state representatives to raise awareness for SBHCs. As a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I am excited to share about the ways in which SBHCs are meeting the needs of youth in my community.
The ‘Be the Change’ Youth Training Program is an enriching experience that provides a platform to elevate youth voices. Our time spent at convention provides us with the skills to engage, advocate, impact, and lead, and prepare us to be leaders in our schools and communities. On behalf of the Youth Advisory Council, I look forward to this year’s convention and another opportunity to see youth taking the lead.
Visit the ‘Be the Change’ Youth Training Program webpage to learn more information and how to register.