By Anna Casalme, Youth Advisory Council member on September 15, 2016
As a Youth Advisory Council member, I had the opportunity to attend and present at the 2016 National School-Based Health Care Convention in Arlington, VA. If I had to sum up the whole experience in a single word, it would be: awesome. I’m referring not to the trite and overused “awesome” but the literal awe. I’m in awe of the work that the convention’s 25 youth attendees are doing to create change and promote health in their own school-based health centers and communities. I’m in awe of the other Youth Advisory Council members and I can confirm that yes, they are as interesting and inspiring in person as they are over conference calls. I’m in awe of the school-based health care movement and the nurses, school administrators, policymakers, researchers, and so many other professionals who make up its might.
After convention, I was energized by the people I met and the new information I absorbed, but I wondered: what do I do now? So, I gave myself an assignment: visit a school-based health center I was unfamiliar with. During the poster session, I met Susanne Phillips with the Program in Nursing Science at UC Irvine. Through her, I was able to visit the El Sol Science and Arts Academy and their school-based health center in July. This visit let me continue learning and stay connected with others outside of my day-to-day work. Now, in the remaining months of my term with the Youth Advisory Council, I hope to find ways for the attendees of the convention’s ‘Be the Change’ Youth Training Program to continue networking, sharing resources, and training as youth leaders. However, I know the 2017 National Convention in Long Beach, CA, will come before we know it, and I can’t wait to see what everyone has been up to!