By Baila Salifou, George Washington University student and former SBHA Youth Advisory Council member
I was in my AP Biology class when my principal came into class and personally handed me a package from the School-Based Health Alliance. He placed it on my desk and told me there was an opportunity that he thought I would be a perfect fit for. The School-Based Health Alliance Youth Advisory Council was looking to fill in spots for their next cycle of council members. I had always been an advocate in my community for adolescent mental health and youth civic engagement and generally was always interested in public speaking. From the beginning of my time on the council, I was introduced to an entirely new experience where I would connect with like-minded peers, work with school-based health care professionals, and even gain an internship with the Yale play2PREVENT Lab. I came into the council a bit shy during our meetings. As I warmed up to the team, put myself out there with new opportunities, and practiced public speaking; I began to feel more confident and comfortable with sharing my ideas. Being on the council was a crucial part of my growth, and I have seen the skills I developed during my time here bleed into other aspects of my life. I’ve experienced mini-mentorship sessions with Nicole Korp and Seleena Moore, who were amazing mentors throughout my journey. They helped guide council members and supported us whenever we needed them. Through my internship, I also worked under Katy Stinchfield, who was my guardian Angel when it came to helping me navigate my new role for an important national research initiative. I’ve been exposed to some of the most amazing, heartfelt people at SBHA who value youth voice. Because of my experience here, I feel empowered to continue my advocacy work because I know my voice and experiences matter. Thank you to everybody at the School-Based Health Alliance. I am truly honored to have worked with all of you.
During her time as a YAC member and SBHA intern, Baila was a major contributor across numerous initiatives and focus areas, informing the design, functionality, and dissemination of products and resources, as well as supporting youth focus groups and youth participatory action research. Check out Baila’s accomplishments and contributions: