SBHC Advocacy, Youth Leadership & Civic Engagement

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The Oregon School-Based Health Alliance’s (OSBHA) 2015 SBHC Awareness Day on February 26, 2015 was a resounding success and the largest event of its kind supporting the state’s school-based health centers and stimulating youth leadership, advocacy, and civic engagement. More than 125 youth and adult advocates from five counties traveled to the state’s capitol in Salem to advocate for school-based health care and bring the youth voice to legislators.
OSBHA’s Statewide Youth Action Council (SYAC) members— Tobias Rubel, Skye Garrett, James Biggers, and Ketchura Antoine—prepared the day’s agenda and led a workshop on advocacy and legislator etiquette. Antoine, who also serves as an intern for House Speaker Tina Kotek, reminded the group, “Your legislator lives in your district, so along with representing your community they are your neighbor.”
Doug Riggs, OSBHA’s consultant and spokesperson, discussed the legislative process with youth participants and helped them understand the role of advocacy in supporting OSBHA’s two legislative initiatives: HB2626 which seeks funding and incentives for capital construction of SBHCs and SB336 which seeks funding for expansion and for parity in the state’s SBHC funding formula.
In the afternoon youth met with nineteen different legislators from their districts to talk about how their school-based health center has positively impacted them. Students reported that their meetings with legislators went very well, and one Washington County participant said, “Senator Thatcher was extremely nice and listened to us intensively. It was a great experience!”
Advocates from Lane County were happy to connect with House Majority Leader Val Hoyle, “We already have Representative Val Hoyle’s support and she discussed continuing to advocate for us with Senator Edwards and other representatives.”
At the end of the day, youth and adult advocates left the Capitol feeling like they had made a difference. When asked what they liked most about Awareness Day, one attendee said, “…the passion that was portrayed in every person who helped make this day happen. I also love the determination and support [everyone] had towards making Oregon a healthier and happier place to call home.” 

Photos from the event: