Youth Advisory Council: YOUTH IN ACTION

This story comes from the blogger of the School-Based Health Alliance’s Youth Advisory Council, Gianna Forlizzi. Every other month, as part of the “Youth Voices” blog series, Gianna will share updates from the Youth Advisory Council as well as stories of youth development at the Alliance, its partners, and throughout the school-based health care field. The following highlights come from the members of the School-Based Health Alliance’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC) and young people from across the country. Read more from the series here.

YAC Highlights

Social Media

Our council member Fathima Lye has been hard at work curating powerful content that captivates young people and promotes school-based health to share on YAC social media (@sbhayac). Via our Twitter and Instagram accounts, our YAC team is posting content that’s focused on current news items that affect young people and health in schools.  Recent posts have spanned a variety of topics: health awareness topics for the month of November, such as Diabetes, COPD, and Alzheimer’s; major news related to school health and SBHCs throughout the country; and bullying initiatives. Upcoming themes for this month include lung cancer, smoking prevention, and the importance of sleep—especially for youth.

We encourage young people (and other SBHC advocates!) to reach out to YAC accounts with any activities that are taking place in their SBHCs or communities. We’d love to highlight youth work and show our support!

For more information, contact the social media liaison, Fathima Lye.

Community Outreach

The Youth Advisory Council has started intentionally doing work with community partners like primary care facilities, school-based health center sponsors, and school mental health partners. We’re working with these organizations to develop youth advisory councils and youth training tracks. Since starting our work with these partners, we’ve received an influx of requests for assistance! To respond to that demand, we’ve created a Community Outreach Liaison position on our council to assist with this body of work. If YOU work for an organization that’s trying to get more youth involved or are interested in starting a youth advisory council or a youth training program, we can help! Our online toolkit ‘Lead the Way’: Engaging Youth in Health Care is a great place to start.

For more information and assistance with your youth programming, contact the community outreach liaison, Nicole Carrillo.


On September 26, YAC member Cameron Estrada and Alliance program manager Seleena Moore gave a presentation titled “Youth in SBIRT” for all of the SBIRT-in-SBHCs grantees. Their presentation covered youth development principles, supports, opportunities, and services needed for youth engagement, and how young people can be involved in SBIRT work through screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment. Cameron and Seleena also explained how the YAC can be a resource for centers engaging in SBIRT work.

Cameron and fellow YAC member Nate Batiste were selected to join the Youth Engagement Strategies and Support (YESS) Youth Advisory Board for the Center for Social Innovation. A fellow Conrad N. Hilton Foundation SBIRT grantee, the Center will work with an advisory board of college students to provide feedback and guidance on marketing materials and resources aimed at increasing and improving youth engagement in substance use prevention activities.

For more information, contact the SBIRT in SBHCs program liaison, Cameron Estrada.

Community Shout-Outs

Center for School Mental Health-MD

On October 20, nine high school students from the mid-Atlantic area came together in Washington, D.C. for the National School Mental Health Youth Leadership Day, organized as part of the Center for School Mental Health’s 22nd Annual Conference on Advancing School Mental Health. Youth leaders took part in activities and discussions about school mental health and how to take action in their own schools. The youth leaders also attended several conference sessions with adult facilitators to learn about some of the latest research and practice in the field.

This energetic group was eager to share their experiences and current school mental health advocacy efforts in their community, and they also learned from the facilitators and one another. One participant said, “I was impressed by how active my peers are on mental health issues.” Another noted, “I learned a lot about the different ways that targeted mental health support… can really help [students] start off high school with a good foundation in mental health.” The group continues to stay in touch following the conference, and the CSMH looks forward to incorporating a similar leadership initiative in its 2018 conference in Las Vegas!

To learn more about current and upcoming School Mental Health Youth Leadership opportunities, please email


Novelly is on a mission to reinvent high school health class by using storytelling to engage young people in conversations about sexuality. Started in February 2017, Novelly creator Anna Casalme and fellow Stanford graduates began the volunteer-run school-based mentoring program as a side project to address the frustrations and limitations they experienced working in health education. The pilot showed that combining mentoring and culturally relevant media (books, shows and films targeted towards teenagers) promotes open and organic discussions on tough topics such as sexual assault and consent. It also revealed a not-so-surprising truth about participants—adding a technology component greatly enhanced interaction by meeting teens where they are: their phones. From this, Novelly has now developed the Mighty Networks app in addition to the online platform, where teens can follow a health topic, join a club, ask questions, and share stories with their peers.

For more information, questions for comments, please email

Want to share YOUR stories of youth development and be featured in the next “Youth in Action” blog?  Contact the Youth Advisory Council at


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