“Our voices need to be louder when they help those without a voice.” Joey Kaji, a Senior at Madison West High School, is a first-year youth advisory council member. Joey began working in advocacy as a part of the Providers and Teens Communicating for Health (PATCH) program, where he took on a project to help the fledgling School-Based Health Centers in his district. This past year he worked with the Youth Governance Program (YAB) for Dane County to draft and pass a resolution portraying the county’s support for mental health. Joey also investigates social media and its effects on adolescent mental health through the University of Wisconsin Pediatrics Department. In school, Joey loves history and computer science fields and hopes to use the skills learned there to pave the way for improved healthcare worldwide. He hopes amplifying youth voices in regard to healthcare will lead to better lives for all.
School-Based Health Alliance Youth Advisory Council
Bringing Youth Leadership to the Forefront of School-Based Health Care
The Youth Advisory Council is a youth-led service group that brings young people together through leadership, advocacy, and service. Youth Advisory Council members share their expertise on important health topics, build connections with a network of youth who are passionate about school-based health, and cultivate knowledge and skills about public health and youth development. These young people develop and implement strategies for youth leadership development nationwide and share youth perspectives on health issues with adults and fellow youth leaders.
“Until we get equality in education, we won’t have an equal society.” Mia Hunter is a driven and accomplished individual who is dedicated to making a positive impact in the realm of education equity and policy reform. As a published researcher with the Columbia University Journal of Science Tech Ethics Policy, Mia has delved into the complexities of cultural identity-informed policymaking. Mia’s passion for equity extends beyond their research endeavors. They founded a state-wide initiative mobilizing teenagers to advocate for schooling equity and resources, while also establishing a virtual organization focused on promoting culturally-informed policy reform. Mia has written national policy reports and briefs, developed a comprehensive civics education curriculum and gained valuable experience as an intern at the Borgen Project. Their dedication to various creative pursuits is evident through their founding of a film museum, a video essay YouTube channel, and a podcast centered around education equity. With a relentless drive and a profound passion for equity and social justice, Mia continues to strive for transformative change in the education landscape, inspiring others with their unwavering commitment to creating a more equitable future.
Portland-based student, Lauren Metcalf, began facilitating projects with Youth Action Council in 2020 at Cleveland High School, where she is in her senior year. This kickstarted her passion for advocacy work, leading her to be a Student Health Advocate in Oregon, where she has participated in Advocacy Day and communicated with local legislators. She has also worked with Planned Parenthood’s Teen Council, a peer sex education collective where she provided outreach presentations and attended weekly educational meetings. Additionally, she interns as a Youth Action Council member with her county’s health department. She does recruitment, social media, and community outreach for student-based health centers to make reproductive healthcare more accessible. Lauren strives to create an inclusive environment where youth voices are prioritized in social justice spaces.
“Healthcare is both a fundamental and indispensable human right; Inequitable, inaccessible access to such vital services is undoubtedly one of the greatest injustices plaguing our nation today.” Justin Wang, a Senior at Lambert High School, is a first-year Youth Advisory Council member and second-year member of the School-Based Health Alliance from Atlanta, Georgia. His passion for School-Based Health Center (SBHC) advocacy stems from his interests in health economics and health policy. Previously, he has advocated for SBHC developments to his county’s Board of Commissioners, worked with his county’s school healthcare staff to launch the school district’s first SBHC, worked with the Georgia School-Based Health Alliance to research SBHC mental health outcomes in Georgia, and drafted SBHC-related legislation for the Georgia General Assembly. Outside of his role in the Youth Advisory Council, Justin serves as a Legislative Fellow in the Georgia House of Representatives, an EERG Health Economics Researcher at the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health, and a Health Policy Researcher at the University of Georgia’s School of Public & International Affairs. With his end-to-end experiences concerning health policy implementation, Justin hopes to drive change and bring equitable healthcare access to many of the socioeconomically-challenged populations living in the United States.
“The first step to making the world a more equitable place is providing care to those who need it the most”
Ketan Tamirisa is thrilled to be a first year member of the Youth Advisory Council. He has worked on multiple health policy projects and published in top medical blogs. His passion lies in facilitating change in his community and advocating for legislation to help mitigate disparities in
healthcare. He is currently conducting university-level research in health policy and is an intern for the American College of Cardiology Medical Student Board. He is also on the national board for ClosingTheDivide, leading community initiatives for a worldwide organization focused on eliminating e-waste. As part of this council, Ketan strives to impact others on a national level as well as foster a more healthcare-accessible environment for all.