Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is looking for young people ages 15-19 to lead a Youth Advisory Council (YAC) that will decide how to spend $1 million to help youth and their communities and schools recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding is part of a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide economic relief following the pandemic.
“I think young people are really suffering, and it’s important that we as adults understand what they want and what recovery looks like to them,” said Lev Schneidman, OHA COVID-19 recovery school health program coordinator. “We can make all these decisions about how the money is spent, but ultimately we have to ask, ‘Do the young people want it?’ We are of the belief that people should have a say what their health and wellness looks like, but we often forget young people in that.”
Among other impacts, the pandemic has:
- Disrupted youth’s lives in their communities, schools and activities, causing stress, trauma and pain
- Created the need for remote learning and changes to in-person learning, bringing new challenges and leaving some youth with unmet needs. This affects youth who rely on schools for:
- In-school support for Individual Education Programs
- Behavioral health support
- Space for physical activity
- Decreased in-person social interaction
- Affected youth mental health
- Created financial burdens for families managing work and remote learning
From applications received through March 31, OHA will select 20 youth to serve on the advisory council. They will be required to attend a once monthly two-hour meetings and asked to spend about three additional hours a month on council activities, as well as attend two four-hour retreats.
YAC members will work together to:
- Define what recovery looks like and the values of recovery
- Identify needs and health inequities that are priorities for youth
- Have discussions about health equity and community engagement
- Talk about what is already happening regarding pandemic recovery for youth
For their time and contributions, YAC members will receive:
- $45 an hour for time spent on council activities
- Mentorship from state public health officials and adult community partners
- Training on youth-adult partnerships and health equity
- Learning opportunities and professional development related to public health, education and community support
- The chance to make a positive difference in the lives of Oregon youth
Interested youth ages 15-19 living in Oregon are encouraged to apply here. Applications will be accepted through March 31.