The School-Based Health Center of Fort Smith Public Schools (FSPS), located in Fort Smith, Arkansas, opened in July 2021. Since that time, they have developed a thriving Youth Leadership Advisory Council (YLAC). YLAC is made up of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders who attend Darby Middle School, the campus on which the FSPS School-Based Health Center is housed. These students are also a part of the district’s Health Science Academy, a specialty student program designed to provide innovative academic learning through a healthcare lens.
YLAC is a diverse, student-led group that stands to uphold leadership, promote change, and raise awareness about community health issues. The goals of YLAC are to:
1. Research and raise awareness of community health issues
2. Use media and art to advocate for change
3. Partner with youth, adults, and local organizations to make the FSPS School-Based Health Center and its surrounding community a healthier place for all
Each academic quarter, YLAC students deliver peer-to-peer education through a program entitled Lunch&Learn with YLAC. Through Lunch&Learn, members share their expertise on important health topics impacting their peers and cultivate the knowledge and skills needed for healthy development. This past February, YLAC hosted a Lunch&Learn to discuss the importance of healthy relationships and social skills. Students learned about listening skills, body language, conflict resolution, self-esteem, and how to maintain healthy relationships. Lunch&Learn events are always well attended, and participants often note how impactful peer-led education can be. Previous topics covered have included Self Advocacy in Health Care for Teens, and the 8 Dimensions of Wellness.
The FSPS School-Based Health Center is grateful and honored to work alongside these trail-blazing students in a joint effort to impact and improve the entire community’s health. Thank you, YLAC members, for all your hard work in making Fort Smith a happier and healthier place!
See the images below of the YLAC members in action!