Public Health Youth Councils
The participation of youth in community planning is vital to the success of any program. Youth participation provides perspectives and input that can improve plans, especially with regard to the needs and issues most relevant to adolescence. When programs targeting youth do not involve them in the development and decision-making process, they risk developing strategies that do not work and waste valuable resources.1 Public Health Youth Councils (PHYCs) give young people an opportunity to exercise their voice in decisions that may directly impact them. In partnership with adults, PYHCs aim to engage young people as advocates for their own health and well-being, in addition to the health and well-being of their peers and communities.
Research supports the value of youth involvement, not just for the youth, but for adults and organizations too.2 Professionals become more aware of the issues youth face and are better equipped to respond to them. Organizations become more representative, diverse and inclusive. When youth and adults combine their energy, expertise, and resources in collective action, the outcome is thriving communities that work for youth, adults and families.3
PHYC Benefits for Youth:
- Promotes Positive Youth Development.
- May count towards community involvement, leadership, social and cultural diversity, and public service requirements they might need.
- Looks great on a college application.
- Is a chance to learn about public health and give input on public health services.
- Provides an opportunity to make a long lasting impact in their school and/or community.
- Is a great way to meet new people and make connections.
- Gives youth information and skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.
- Gives youth opportunities to document successes and educate others.
PHYC Benefits for Professionals and Organizations:
- Professional and Social Development.
- Improve public health plans relevant to youth, to more effectively allocate valuable resources.
- New partnerships and coalitions emerge to address issues.
- More appealing to potential funders.
- Public policies/programs are more effective & equitable.
1. Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. (2009). Take action! Incorporating Positive Youth Development. Retrieved from http://www.colorado.gov
2. Kahn, R., Lynn, J., Braga, A., Hoxworth, T., & Donovan, K. (2008). Engage Youth! Colorado’s Guide to Building Effective Youth-Adult Partnerships. Denver, CO: Colorado Youth Partnership for Health, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
3. Petrokubi, J. & Zeldin, S. (2015). Promoting Thriving Youth and Communities through Youth-Adult Partnership. Youth Development & Evaluation, Education Northwest Portland, Oregon. Retrieved from http://fyi.uwex.edu/youthadultpartnership/files/2015/08/MYC-Public-Report-Final.pdf.
For more information, contact Brittany Mathenia, Healthy Youth Consultant 405-271-4471 ext. 56905 or BrittanyM@health.ok.gov.