Young Women’s Health Leadership
About the Program
Over the past three years, the Young Women’s Health Leadership Program (YWHLP) has empowered young people throughout California to serve as advocates improving the health conditions of women. Our program is structured as follows:
- During the school year, youth attend two statewide trainings to learn about community engagement and public policy
- After conducting research to assess local needs, youth become active participants in the public policy process by developing and implementing projects in their communities which address issues around women’s health
- They gain support from partnerships with community based programs; speak at state and national conferences; and conduct outreach to educate their communities, local policymakers, and state officials about the importance of women’s health issues.
This program seeks to train and support youth, infusing them into the women’s health dialogue by providing them with the tools to be effective advocates and agents of change in their communities. Young people have:
- Worked to strengthen peer education programs
- Create and deliver presentations on body image and sexually transmitted infections
- Ensure access to the most current reproductive health information.
The YWHLP was developed in 2007, and is supported by funding from California Wellness Foundation and the Women’s Foundation of California. Currently there are over forty-five young women from five communities engaged in this program.
Local Teams in Action
- El Cerrito High School, El Cerrito
- King Drew Magnet High School, Los Angeles
- University Preparatory High School, Redding
- Riverbank High School, Riverbank
- Arthur A. Benjamin Health Professions High School, Sacramento
Below are some examples of the youth’s extraordinary work:
In El Cerrito youth are working with their school district board to address body image issues among young women. In May 2009 youth surveyed 511 students at El Cerrito High School on a number of prominent teen wellness issues. Based on the results the youth determined that there was a need to address body image issues and to promote healthy eating among female students in the broader school community. They are collaborating with school district board to develop a resolution to create a district nutrition committee that would focus on developing and implementing strategies to address this issue. (Top)
Over the past two years Los Angeles youth have educated over 1,100 of their peers on STI prevention using the curriculum that they developed. Youth have continued working along side school administrators in creating a more youth friendly presentation on STI prevention. The team’s overall goal is to ensure that all public high schools in Los Angeles provide adequate teen health and reproductive health information in their curriculum. (Top)
Since 2007 youth in Redding have been working to improve access to information and reproductive services for teens in their community. Some examples of their work include:
- Distributing a teen knowledge assessment to identify information gaps on a variety of health issues, services and resources available in the community.
- In May 2009 youth partnered with Shasta County Reproductive Health Collaborative to put together a community teen health fair, called Youthfest 2009. Youth planned activities and coordinated with local community organizations to attend the event. The fair focused on educating youth on teen health issues, as well connecting them with health organizations and resources available to the community.
This year Youthfest 2010 is taking place Saturday, May 8th! Click here for more information. (Top)
Given the high rate of teen dating violence and teen pregnancies in California, Riverbank youth have identified the need to educate their community members and peers on healthy dating and decision-making. Youth have been actively involved in their school and community. Some examples include:
- Receiving school district approval to implement a youth-led healthy relationships curriculum in 5th and 6th grade classes.
- Gaining more attention to the overall culture of relationships among teens in Riverbank.
- Attend a Teen Dating Violence Prevention Meeting this March 2010 with other youth leaders from through out California to discuss building a stronger youth voice and leadership in statewide teen dating violence prevention efforts and policies. (Top)
In Sacramento students from Health Professions High School established a Women’s Health Club on campus. The team partnered with Planned Parenthood Mar Monte to support their local efforts and received training in Sexual Health Education so they can become peer educators. The youth will be giving classroom presentations, as well as offer after school consultation and advice to their peers. Some of their achievements include:
- Working with school administration to improve comprehensive sexual health education on campus as well as with in the school district.
- Conducting an 80min workshop on March 18th, 2010 at Reproductive Freedom Day on youth strategies for improving sexual health. (Top)
Since 2007 the YWHLP participants have been actively educating statewide level decision makers and stakeholders on youth priorities for women’s health. This success can be attributed to the development of a youth-led policy platform based on the local work of each YWHLP site team. Each spring participants convene in Sacramento and learn about women’s health concerns at the state level through meetings with capitol professionals, and women’s health leaders. For the past two years YWHLP youth voted on the following policy areas they have wanted to focus on:
- Comprehensive Sexual Health Education
- Healthy Relationship Awareness
- Mental Health Services
This year youth’s policy priorities from the PLPSH and YWHLP were very closely aligned, so we decided to bring participants together to develop a policy priority statement that reflects both programs. This partnership strengthens the youth’s statewide advocacy efforts and reflects the youth voice of over 60 youth leaders. After careful consideration of issues impacting their communities, youth developed the 2010 PLPSH & YWHLP 2010 Policy Recommendations. The youth ask that you add school health and woman’s health issues to the list of issues that decision makers and stakeholders prioritize. The specific priorities are:
- Mental Health Services: Access to mental health services in essential to ensuring safe and healthy youth.
- Comprehensive Sexual Health Education: We believe that providing comprehensive, age appropriate sexual health education to all students is the most effective preventative measure to enable youth to make healthier choices in their lives.
- Teen Dating Violence Prevention: Women of all ages are disproportionately affected by violence and sexual assault. Women aged 16 – 24 experience the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence. Prevention programs save money in the long run, reducing the need for more serious interventions
- School Health Services: Access to school based health services ensures students have access to vital medical and mental health services. This access reduces missed school days, ensures students are healthier and perform better in school.
To learn more about the local and statewide work of the YWHLP check out our October 2009 YWHLP Newsletter. Click here to download.
“This program has made me really want to take action in my community and find ways to make things better.”
How to Apply