Youth Voices: Skye Garrett on her SBHC experience

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Skye Garrett is the operations director for OSBHA's Statewide Youth Advisory Council. She recently shared a version of this story at SBHC Awareness Day in Salem on February 26, 2014. Learn more about Skye and the Statewide Youth Advisory Council.

I first joined Milwaukie High School's Youth Advisory Council because I was interested in a health career and was curious about OSBHA. But what got me truly hooked was when I was in dire need of a flu vaccine and had nowhere to turn to besides Milwaukie's brand new school-based health center.

In my senior year of high school, I had the honor of being accepted into a rigorous program at Sabin-Schellenburg Center that allowed me to intern at various departments of Clackamas County hospitals. However, I needed my immunizations up to date and a tuberculosis skin test to join the program.

My parents had to figure out what my insurance was and who my doctor was and I was given every shot required EXCEPT the flu vaccination because there was a potential reaction between the different shots. My doctor recommended that I wait a month before receiving it.

I was busy studying for finals, doing homework, and working my part-time job after school and before I knew it a month had passed. I checked back in with my father, but found out he never scheduled a follow up appointment! I had no idea what to do. The world seemed to be coming to an end. It was at this moment I realized I was on my own and I couldn’t let myself be shot down by a simple flu vaccination. That’s when Milwaukie High School’s SBHC saved the day! Honestly, when I walked into Milwaukie’s SBHC I can admit I remember becoming a little teary.

It was after that experience that I realized how important school-based health centers truly are to students who may not have many resources for health problems bigger than immunizations. How many other kids in my class were in a similar situation with nowhere to go? How many young teens are there who have no idea how to schedule a doctor’s appointment on their own, or have no way to get there? I think the number is quite large.

Today, more than 23,000 clients are being served in the SBHCs in Oregon. Health centers give students the opportunity to converse about daily problems in teens' lives with honest medical professionals, acquire prescriptions such as allergy medicine and antibiotics, receive dental care, and get easy access to physicals.

Since my experience with Milwaukee’s SBHC, I’ve become involved with the OSBHA’s Statewide Youth Advisory Council, helping me truly become involved with school-based health advocacy. I have had the honor of meeting Governor Kitzhaber, Representative Nancy Nathanson, Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward, and many other important people.

We teenagers can truly make a difference and impact our peers’ lives, and I believe that young leaders working on YACs around the state can help empower this generation. We are always looking for new motivated youth leaders to join the Statewide YAC and are working to provide support to local YACs. Join us!