Don’t Call Me A Kid!

By Melissa Akers, Program Manager, School-Based Health Alliance

Don't Call Me a Kid!The workshop begins in 10 minutes. A few adults look into the room and ask if they are in the right place. A few more trickle in. Soon a stream of people pour into the room. By the time the workshop starts, it is standing room only.

The workshop, “Speakin’ the Same Language: Partnering with Youth to Improve Your Practice,” was the first Youth Program workshop we ever opened to youth and adults. The goal was for participants to come together and share their experiences accessing and providing care in a school-based health center (SBHC). The hour was filled with moments of honesty and courage, moments that challenged long-held perspectives, and moments that inspired open dialogue.

Young people in the room discussed what they feel are ‘youth-friendly’ services. They called for more SBHCs to have Youth Advisory Councils, allowing youth the opportunity to be engaged and have a seat at the decision-making table. They voiced not wanting to be called a “kid.” They see themselves as teens or young adults and want to be treated as such.

Adults shared difficulties in connecting with their patients and asked how to improve their communication with teens. A lively conversation was had around who truly knows best when it comes to making a decision about a young person’s health. Youth advocated for being a central part of the decision-making process because it is their health and they know best about their own bodies. Many providers asked how to better engage youth in that process, especially when they feel a young person is not making the best choices.

After the workshop was over, it was clear not all questions could be answered in such a short time, but that this served to get the conversation started with the hopes that everyone will go back to their schools and SBHCs and keep the conversation going. The fact that it was standing room only demonstrates that the school-based health care field does not want to operate in a bubble; they want to work side-by-side with their student patients as partners. They want to hear from those they serve. Although some of the things that the youth said that day may have been difficult to hear, so many came to listen. And that spoke volumes.


1 Comment

  1. by Tammie on September 13, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    The importance of instilling healthy behaviors in teens is important. This workshop had a great turnout and appeared to have both parent and student involvement. I am interested in school based health alliance and looking forward to following this blog.

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