2014 SBHC Awareness Day a success!

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Representative Nathanson with OSBHA Executive Director Paula Hester.Awareness Day, held on February 26 at the Oregon state capitol, gathered more than 60 advocates to highlight the impact of school-based health services on student health and academic achievement. The event provided an opportunity for young people to visit the capitol, meet their legislators, and link their personal stories to the importance of school-based health centers (SBHCs) in communities around the state.

Statewide Youth Advisory Council (SYAC) members offered their personal stories about how SBHCs have impacted their experiences accessing and using school-based health services. Tobias Rubel, SYAC communications director recognized that the experience of sitting down to speak with a legislator could be stressful for some students. His advice was for students to focus on the power of their story. "You should go in there and tell them about how school-based health care benefits you, the student."

They also encouraged those in attendance to join the Statewide Youth Advisory Council, or consider starting or expanding their own Youth Advisory Council. 
 
Oregon School-Based Health Alliance (OSBHA) provided storytelling workshops in advance of legislator meetings, as well as information about the legislative and lobbying processes that end up impacting individuals and communities throughout Oregon.
 
More than a dozen legislators hosted meetings with students to discuss school health services, student experiences, professions in the health field, and more. Senator Steiner-Hayward encouraged young people to stay connected with the political process, speak up about issues they care about, register to vote at age 17, and vote during election season. Representative Nathanson reminded students that their stories were powerful tools in understanding issues related to health and education. 
 
Students from Benson High School attended the event to support the development of an SBHC at their high school. Centrally located in Portland, they felt strongly that a center at Benson would be an asset to students and the community.
 
Following the event, on the morning of Friday, February 28, House Bill 4124 unanimously passed through the Ways and Means Committee. During the proceedings, Senator Edwards mentioned his conversation with youth during Awareness Day, recognizing the value of school-based health centers in suicide prevention efforts. 
 
Coverage of Awareness Day by Salem's Statesman Journal featured Estacada High School students meeting with Representative Kennemer.
 
SBHC Awareness Day is an annual event that supports Oregon's School-Based Health Care Awareness Month every February. For information about preparing for next year's event, please contact OSBHA. Stay tuned for more photos and stories on the OSBHA website.