Public health is made of organized efforts around the world that aim at to prevent disease and promote health across our communities. Tied together through education, action, evaluation and advocacy, youth and public health are addressing a lot of issues, including HIV/AIDs, smoking, pregnancy prevention, and more.
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”— Wendy Lesko
Ways Youth Engagement in Public Health Happens
Youth as Teachers — Young people can be some of the best public health educators, whether teaching their parents, their siblings, other young people or adults throughout their communities. Engaging youth as teachers can quickly normalize activities, knowledge and attitudes that are different or new for their communities in ways adults cannot, and can reach people others can’t, either.
Social Media — Texting public health messages and sharing public health knowledge with their peers and other throughout social media can help youth be powerful communicators and recruiters. Social media can also help youth educators build community around their issues, roles and regions, too.
Youth-Led Activism — When adults won’t listen to youth voice or allow youth participation, young people can make their voices heard through activism. Whether they are organizing communities, leading sit-ins, advocating for policy change or building online movements, young people can be powerful activists for issues that matter to them.
Needs for Youth Engagement in Public Health
Education — Young people should know the basic, elemental parts of public health all of the time, no matter who they are, where they live or how much money their families and communities have. However, to change the world with public health, children and youth should learn critical thinking skills, build their knowledge base, and expand their abilities.
Youth/Adult Partnerships — Working with adults as partners is a sure way to change the world through public health. Young people can teach adults about issues that matter while receiving the support, encouragement and knowledge of adults.
Funding — Securing and sustaining funding is vital for youth-led public health action. Changing the world through active engagement in the issues that affect them most, children and youth deserve the fiscal support they need for programs, activities and outcomes that reflect the importance of public health throughout our lives and communities.
You Might Like…
- Children for Health
- Child-to-Child Trust
- “Getting Ready for School: A child-to-child approach” by UNICEF
- Save the Children
- Children for Health: Children as partners in health promotion by Clare Hanbury-Leu for the Child-To-Child Trust
- Youth-Led Health Promotion in Urban Communities: A community capacity-building perspective by Marvin Delgado for Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
- American Legacy Foundation Youth Activism program
- the truth campaign
- Youth 4 Health
- California Adolescent Health Collaborative
- National Children’s Oral Health Foundation
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth engagement in public health through your community or organization, contact us.