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TAG in Action: Successful Strategies

Read a few successful strategies involving TAG.

TAG in Action: Mobile Teen Van

As part of its national call to action, Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG), the Office of Adolescent Health, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service has identified a number of successful strategies for improving adolescent health throughout the country.

The Goal

The Mobile Adolescent Health Services program, known as the Teen Health Van, provides comprehensive, coordinated and adolescent-friendly medical, mental health, and nutrition/fitness care to vulnerable youth ages 10-25.

The Game Plan

The Teen Van is a mobile health unit that travels the San Francisco Bay Area, regularly visiting schools and community agencies in order to reach young people who are homeless, uninsured or underinsured, and who don’t have access to health services. The staff includes a physician specializing in adolescent medicine, a nurse practitioner, a social worker, a dietitian, a medical assistant, and a registrar/driver.

Serving as a one-stop shop, the Teen Van focuses on eliminating barriers so that vulnerable youth can get the comprehensive health services they need. Staff is able to draw blood, run tests and dispense medicine, all from the van. If a young person needs specialized follow-up tests or care, the staff help arrange the appointments, and transportation to and from those appointments, if needed. The full-time social worker is able to counsel youth and can also connect them with additional community resources. The dietician, who is also a fitness expert, promotes overall healthy adolescent eating and fitness, and also works one-on-one with youth on issues from obesity to malnourishment.

Every six months the staff compiles data to review both individual and collective progress. They look at everything from whether youth are up-to-date with immunizations to overall health and nutrition to their engagement in risky behaviors. They are also able to review outcomes by subgroups, such as gender, race/ethnicity, and homelessness and have published several peer-reviewed articles on their findings.

The Winning Plays

Dr. Seth Ammerman, the Teen Van’s founder and physician, explained, “We take a strengths-based approach very literally. Youth are asked to name their strengths at their first appointment and staff continues to build on that conversation at every appointment thereafter. Our focus on strengths creates a positive atmosphere while also providing us a way to bond with the youth. And because our approach is adolescent-focused, adolescent-friendly, and adolescent-respectful, we are actually meeting the young people where they are both physically and developmentally.”

Learn More

Moblie Adolescent Health Services Program (Teen Van)
http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/service/teen-van

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TAG in Action: U.S. Soccer Foundation

As part of its national call to action, Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG), the Office of Adolescent Health, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service has identified a number of successful strategies for improving adolescent health throughout the country.

The Goal

The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s Safe Places to Play and Soccer for Success programs help communities address childhood obesity and juvenile delinquency and increase options for safe afterschool programming.

The Game Plan

Through the Safe Places to Play program, the Foundation has helped to create and develop more than 1,100 soccer fields across the country in order to give kids safe and accessible areas to play. Safe Places to Play transforms abandoned courts, empty schoolyards, and small vacant lots into state-of-the-art soccer fields. The program is built on the belief that every child should be able to play soccer without being concerned for his or her safety. Through grants to underserved communities, Safe Places to Play helps communities address the common challenge in underserved areas of inadequate places for youth to play and be active. The grants help cover the costs of design, construction, surfacing, and enhancement.

Through its Soccer for Success program the Foundation partners with community-based organizations to provide a free afterschool option for youth that ensures kids from kindergarten through 8th grade are physically active for the recommended 60 minutes per day. They also learn about eating right and other ways to stay healthy, and they gain important decision-making and relationship skills from their interactions with coach-mentors and peers. Soccer for Success’ lessons don’t stop on the field. Coach-mentors meet with families regularly to educate parents and guardians about how to embrace an active and healthy lifestyle and nurture their child’s personal growth. A recent study found that children who participated in Soccer for Success significantly improved their Body Mass Index (BMI) percentile, waist circumference and aerobic capability compared to children in other afterschool programs in the same neighborhoods.

The Winning Plays

The U.S. Soccer Foundation’s efforts on behalf of children go beyond simply seeking to expand the availability of soccer programs and fields. As the U.S. Soccer Foundation describes, making soccer accessible to youth has a broader purpose: “We view soccer as a powerful vehicle for social change. By supporting the development of places to play, places to grow and places to learn, our goal is to ensure that children in underserved communities have easy and affordable access to quality soccer programs that support their physical and personal development.”

Learn More

http://ussoccerfoundation.org/programs/

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TAG in Action: Michigan Adolescent Health Initiative

As part of its national call to action, Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG), the Office of Adolescent Health, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service has identified a number of successful strategies for improving adolescent health throughout the country.

The Goal

The University of Michigan Health System Adolescent Health Initiative (AHI) advances innovative approaches to adolescent-centered healthcare through practice improvement, education, research, and youth and community engagement.

The Game Plan

AHI’s Adolescent Champion Model gives health care providers a framework to make youth-friendly enhancements to their clinic’s physical space, policies, and practices. The model improves the care of adolescent and young adult patients through:

  • Comprehensive Adolescent-Centered Environment (ACE) assessments, customized implementation plans and robust resources
  • Targeted quality improvement initiatives
  • Innovative training and professional development opportunities for all staff
  • Opportunities for Continuing Medical Education (CME) and Maintenance of Certification Part IV credits
  • Ongoing, personalized technical and capacity-building assistance

The Adolescent Champion Model was developed after interviews with health care providers and staff from across the country revealed that most did not feel equipped or prepared to meet the needs of their teen and young adult patients. Many reported that they had not been trained on important issues like confidentiality and minor consent or providing culturally competent care for transgender and gender nonconforming patients. AHI began its effort with funding from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and was met by an overwhelming demand. The success of the ACE assessment process and Adolescent Champion model quickly spread across Michigan and has recently expanded to other states including Iowa, Mississippi, and Wisconsin, with plans for further rollout.

The Winning Plays

The Adolescent Health Initiative involved their teen advisory council in development of the Adolescent Champion model, which lent credibility and youth perspective. For example, young people made clear that anyone can make or break their experience in a healthcare setting so the model’s training and capacity building framework involves everyone– physicians, call center staff, front desk staff, nurses, administrators, etc. Lauren Ranalli, AHI Director, shared that “Teens are often a forgotten population, and health centers aren’t necessarily set up to meet their specific needs. We are looking at transforming primary care and school-based health centers into adolescent-centered medical homes, and this involves everyone from the person who answers the phone to the provider who treats them.”

Learn More

University of Michigan Health System
http://umhs-adolescenthealth.org/

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TAG in Action: The SPOT

As part of its national call to action, Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG), in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has identified a number of successful strategies for improving adolescent health throughout the country.

The Goal

The SPOT (Supporting Positive Opportunities for Teens) is a comprehensive health and social services center that serves young people ages 13 to 24 in St. Louis, Missouri. The program’s vision is “Youth partnering with community for social justice and health.”

The Game Plan

The SPOT provides free, confidential medical care, mental health and substance abuse counseling, and case management services to any young person who needs them. In addition, The SPOT also provides a safe place for teens to hang out. Youth can drop in from 1-5 pm in the afternoons to use a computer, take a shower, or grab a snack.

The SPOT was established in 2008 when Washington University School of Medicine’s Division of Adolescent Medicine and the Project ARK HIV program for children, youth, and women observed rising rates of HIV, STDs and other preventable diseases among young people. The teams saw an opportunity to intervene to help kids medically and psychologically. Project ARK and leadership from Adolescent Medicine learned that successful programs for high-risk youth were all grounded in a positive youth development approach and provided comprehensive, low barrier access to services.

The SPOT staff is comprised of people who are passionate about working with teens and young adults. They receive training in delivering trauma-informed services and in using a positive youth development approach. The staff is also committed to early screening for STDs and other preventable diseases and connecting youth to any services they need.

The Winning Plays

Youth were engaged in every aspect of The SPOT’s development. Youth Leaders worked with the architect and interior designer to create a welcoming and youth friendly space. Youth helped determine the array of services offered and even interviewed job applicants. Staff expected to serve 500 youth in the first year of operation, but they reached 500 in the first quarter and now serve about 3,200 youth annually. The SPOT’s Executive Director, Kim Donica, gives credit to the young people. “The youth leaders made a huge difference. We gained their trust and then they told their friends. Youth hear about us by word of mouth. Their first visit is often because they really need something, but they return because they trust us and know The SPOT is a safe place.”

Learn More

http://thespot.wustl.edu

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TAG in Action: Sources of Strength

As part of its national call to action, Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow®  (TAG), the Office of Adolescent Health, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service has identified a number of successful strategies for improving adolescent health throughout the country.

The Goal

Sources of Strength is a universal, peer-leadership approach to preventing youth suicide, bullying, violence and substance abuse. The program trains peer leaders to use positive social norming methods to create healthy climate and cultural change.

The Game Plan

Sources of Strength empowers both peer leaders and caring adults to impact their world through the power of connection, hope, help and strength. The program begins with an extensive training for adult advisors who will help coordinate the program and support the peer leader team. The adult advisors are trained on starting-up and implementing the program, and most importantly, on how to truly partner with youth throughout implementation. The peer leaders are then trained along side their adult advisors. Using games and fun activities, the youth learn to tell their own story of strength and overcoming adversity and to identify adults whom they trust. They talk about how seeking help from adults is a sign of bravery and courage, not weakness.

As part of the training and ongoing support, the peer leaders and their adult advisors are given tools to create similar opportunities for all youth in their school or community to develop their own positive narrative and build stronger connections with adults. Sources of Strength provides suggestions, materials and templates, such as sample campaigns. However they encourage peer leaders and adult advisors to adapt the program to fit their school or community culture and to create strategies that are contextual and localized. The program is currently in over 300 locations, including middle schools, high schools, universities, tribal communities and juvenile justice centers.

The Winning Plays

Sources of Strength national trainer, Daniel Adams, attributes the program’s success to “our radically positive, strengths-based approach.” The five-hour peer leader training focuses less on the negative outcomes and warnings signs of suicide and more on resiliency, recovery, and strengths that help youth and young adults overcome difficulties. Peer leaders spend time telling their own positive self-narratives and practicing actual help-seeking pathways with caring adults in their life. Also critical to their success is an ongoing commitment to program evaluation. Over the past decade Sources of Strength has been rigorously evaluated, and among other designations, in 2011 was listed on SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).

Learn More

https://sourcesofstrength.org/

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TAG in Action: Providers and Teens Communicating for Health Program (PATCH)

As part of its national call to action, Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG), the Office of Adolescent Health, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service has identified a number of successful strategies for improving adolescent health throughout the country.

The Goal

The Wisconsin-based Providers and Teens Communicating for Health Program (PATCH), is an innovative, teen-delivered educational program that strives to improve the ability of health care providers and teens to communicate effectively about sensitive health topics—such as sexual health, mental health, alcohol and drug abuse, or safety—thereby improving the quality of care that the teens receive.

The Game Plan

PATCH offers two workshops taught by Teen Educators, one for providers, and another for teens. PATCH for Providers is an interactive and practical training in which healthcare providers are taught a model for asking teens questions about sensitive subjects such as alcohol use, self-esteem and sexuality. Providers are also given guidance on how to effectively handle patient confidentiality with teens, for example by developing an office policy on confidentiality and clearly stating exceptions to confidentiality.

The PATCH for Teens workshop focuses on the importance of open communication between teens and healthcare providers and provides tips and tools to facilitate communication. Teen Educators equip their peers with skills to navigate the healthcare system and advocate for health care visits that prioritize judgment-free care. They also teach teens skills to help them engage in meaningful and effective communication with healthcare providers.

The Wisconsin Medical Journal recently published research that demonstrated that participating providers and teens experienced significant improvements in knowledge, self-efficacy, and behavioral intentions to seek and provide quality sexual health care. The PATCH program is planning to expand throughout Wisconsin and is working toward replication nationwide.

The Winning Plays

Amy Olejniczak, Director of the PATCH Program, explained the impact that PATCH has on those involved. “The power of PATCH comes from the Teen Educators. They become empowered to be advocates on health care issues. They learn to train adults, and not just any adults, but doctors and nurses. We see these skills [not only] getting the results we want in the workshops, but also affecting the rest of their lives. The Teen Educators become natural advocates for their peers and in our community. They have spoken out on other issues such as bullying. PATCH isn’t just improving health outcomes for the next generation, we’re also creating advocates for the next generation.”

Learn More

http://www.wipatch.org

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TAG in Action: Teen Health and Success Partnership

As part of its national call to action, Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG), the Office of Adolescent Health, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service has identified a number of successful strategies for improving adolescent health throughout the country.

The Goal

The Teen Health and Success Partnership (THSP) at the University of Rochester offers young people the chance to learn valuable job and life skills, connect with mentors, and access educational support.

The Game Plan

THSP provides employment opportunities and helps prepare youth for careers in health care, academic settings, and research while promoting well-being. Through its Be Employed Be Successful program, THSP works to improve the roughly 50 percent high school graduation rate for youth in the Rochester City School District. Youth in the program work at the University of Rochester and receive multiple services including career shadowing opportunities, college preparation assistance, free tutoring, life skills development, access to programs to improve wellness, career coaching, and job training. This program has helped more than 200 youth graduate from high school and transition to college, vocational school, or full-time employment. The program is helping youth improve outcomes: 100 percent graduate from high school; 79 percent enroll in college or vocational school; and 63 percent have been promoted at work.

THSP also collaborates with the Rochester City School District’s Leadership Academy for Young Men on a program to improve the high school graduation rates for African American males and Latino males in the school district. Young Men of Rochester: UR BOLD (Building Outstanding Leadership & Distinction) provides much-needed support and services to help teen males experience success in high school and prepare for college and employment. UR BOLD offers participating youth opportunities for mentoring, seminars on skill-building, visits to the University of Rochester college campus to deepen their understanding of what college is like, and connections to resources that support personal development and career success.

The Winning Plays

THSP was recently awarded the 2015 Hilary E.C. Millar Award for Innovative Approaches to Adolescent Health Care by the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine for its valuable contributions to the well-being of youth in Rochester. Upon receiving this award, Suzanne M. Piotrowski, M.D., clinical associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Rochester and director of THSP stated: “This is a replicable model of community collaboration to promote the health, academic success and gainful employment of urban youth. Rochester’s THSP youth are changing the startlingly chronic poverty and school failure statistics of Rochester.”

Learn More

https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/community-health/programs-services/teen-health-success-partnerships.aspx

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TAG in Action: Chicago's Citywide Adolescent Health Efforts

As part of its national call to action, Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG), the Office of Adolescent Health, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service has identified a number of successful strategies for improving adolescent health throughout the country.

The Goal

In an effort to reach more teens across the city, the Chicago Public School (CPS) and the Chicago Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) Office of Adolescents and School Health partnered to develop public awareness campaigns and programs that would complement their existing, evidence-based Teen Outreach Program® (TOP) model.

The Game Plan

Building upon the classroom and community service learning components of TOP, CDPH created a cross-functional collaboration with experts in other disciplines to develop:

  • The city-wide Action Plan for Healthy Adolescents which identifies 40 measurable health targets as well as 65 strategies that will be implemented by CDPH and its partners;
  • The Condom Availability Program, which makes free condoms available at participating public high schools and school-based health centers and includes complimentary mobile health apps to connect students to health resources;
  • An innovative public awareness campaigns; and
  • A teen health hotline.

Youth were involved throughout the process. For example, a teenage boy inspired the Condom Availability Program. He had taken hundreds of condoms from the school health office and sold them to his friends. He was so much more effective than other approaches that his idea was developed and branded as a strategy called “Teen Health Agents.” Youth also helped develop the “Unexpected?” public awareness campaign which challenged gender stereotypes by depicting pregnant boys. Not surprisingly, the campaign tested poorly with adults, but it got the attention of its target audience and the media. The campaign went viral worldwide, earning more than 1 billion media impressions.

The Winning Plays

Chicago knew that youth are essential partners in improving health outcomes for teens, and learned a few lessons, including:

  • Know your audience. (P.S. It’s not you).
  • Ideas are not enough; you have to execute or build the team that can.
  • Solutions already exist, just not where you think.
  • Tokenize youth at your peril. They are not the objects of your work, they are your partners!

See and Hear TAG in Action

Video, Slides

TAG in Action: Colorado 9to25

As part of its national call to action, Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG), the Office of Adolescent Health, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service has identified a number of successful strategies for improving adolescent health throughout the country.

The Goal

Colorado 9to25 is a collective, action-oriented group of Colorado youth and adults working in partnership to align efforts and achieve positive outcomes for all youth, ages 9-25, so they can reach their full potential.

The Game Plan

Since 2010, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has used federal Maternal and Child Health (MCH) block grant funding to build a youth system now known as Colorado 9to25 (CO9to25). In 2013, state legislation in Colorado directed the Colorado Department of Human Services to create a statewide youth development plan. Having partnered on CO9to25 since its inception, staff identified alignment between the legislative requirements and CO9to25’s existing work.


With CO9to25 serving as the foundation of the legislated plan, community and state youth initiatives were reviewed across the state. CO9to25 then identified gaps and barriers to services, including: missing connections to adults, behavioral health needs, homelessness, disparities and stigma experienced by various populations, and a need for cross-systems coordination and collaboration. A nonprofit organization, The Civic Canopy, worked to maintain and enhance the CO9to25 infrastructure to align youth-serving programs, practices and policies across Colorado to address these gaps and promote positive youth development.

The Winning Plays

CO9to25 representatives modeled a positive youth development approach as they designed a plan for the entire state. Two key practices for engaging young people stood out: building upon the inherent interests and strengths of youth participants through preparation and debriefing to enhance their capacity to sit at the table, and facilitating meaningful engagement of youth in decision-making roles including changing meeting norms to make them more inclusive of young people’s needs. As one young woman said about the process, “It’s when there is give and take, and respect for diverse opinions that we change the world. The Colorado Statewide Youth Development Plan gives us, the youth, a chance to be heard.”

Learn More

http://co9to25.org/

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TAG in Action: Health Centers in School

As part of its national call to action, Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG), the Office of Adolescent Health, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service has identified a number of successful strategies for improving adolescent health throughout the country.

The Goal

Health Centers in Schools is demonstrating the power of an innovative, integrated program to improve the health and well-being of students and support educational progress.

The Game Plan

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Health Centers in Schools is providing no-cost medical and mental health services on site at 11 public school campuses. With additional rotating school nurses and support staff, Health Centers in Schools serves 72 school buildings in East Baton Rouge Parish and provides health and mental health services to approximately 45,000 students. In 2009, more than 6,000 students in East Baton Rouge public schools had chronic health conditions or required special health services. These students can now receive health services within their school, which minimizes their time away from class and supports better educational outcomes.


In addition to providing school-based health and mental health services, Health Centers in Schools offers an online searchable guide to community organizations in the greater Baton Rouge area. The guide links youth and families to a variety of services and programs including groups that address family relationships, substance abuse, and parenting skills.

The Winning Plays

A large, multi-disciplinary collaboration among community partners contributes to the success of Health Centers in Schools. It is run by Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in partnership with the East Baton Rouge school system and the Louisiana Office of Public Health. Other partners include the Nurse-Family Partnership, Vaccines for Children, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry, Area Health Education Center, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, Children’s Coalition of Greater Baton Rouge, and multiple pediatric dentists, optometrists, and a child/adolescent psychiatrist.

Learn More

http://www.schoolhealthathcs.org

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TAG in Action: Georgia Power

As part of its national call to action, Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG), the Office of Adolescent Health, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service has identified a number of successful strategies for improving adolescent health throughout the country.

The Goal

The Georgia Campaign for Power & Potential (GCAPP) empowers young people to make healthy choices, which in turn ensures their ability to achieve their full potential, unencumbered by teenage pregnancy, bolstered by strong physical health, and supported by healthy relationships.

The Game Plan

When adolescents need information, most turn first to their smart phones. Following this trend, Georgia Campaign for Power & Potential (GCAPP) developed a free mobile phone app, gPOWER, giving teens a convenient source of information on sexual health. GCAPP worked with young people to develop the app to locate free or low-cost clinical services for sexual health in Georgia. The app makes it easy for youth to learn about their rights to receive sexual health services. They can explore options for birth control and STD prevention, find out what to expect at clinical appointments and equip themselves with questions to ask at these visits.


The gPOWER app also leverages the value of social media to share the views of teens who have used sexual health services with other teens. Just as adults use Yelp or Trip Advisor, adolescents in Georgia can use gPOWER to write anonymous reviews of the clinics for their peers. Their feedback helps other teens find out what the clinic experience was like. Comments may cover the availability of same-day or next-day appointments, the atmosphere of the clinic and whether staff made youth feel comfortable and respected.

The Winning Plays

gPower reflects GCAPP’s broadened adolescent health mission. After 17 years of focusing primarily on reducing teen pregnancy, the organization and its coalition partners expanded their work in 2013 to include healthy relationships and strong physical health, an approach urged by the U.S. Office of Adolescent Health. “We know the adolescent years represent a critical stage of development. It’s well documented that these are years that harbor many risks, but as the gateway to adulthood, they also present an opportunity for sustained health and wellbeing through education and prevention efforts.”

Learn More

http://www.gcapp.org/

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TAG in Action: Gilda's Club Seattle

As part of its national call to action, Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG), the Office of Adolescent Health, in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service has identified a number of successful strategies for improving adolescent health throughout the country.

The Goal

Gilda’s Club Seattle works with high schools to provide support and information to teens about cancer, and to ensure that no young person has to face cancer alone.

The Game Plan

Cancer affects the lives of many adolescents, whether they are diagnosed with cancer themselves or one of their friends or family members has cancer. Gilda's Club Seattle identified a gap in outreach to teens about cancer—including cancer prevention and support when friends or family members have been diagnosed with cancer—and has provided targeted outreach and educational information to teens in Washington State since 2005.

The organization notes that "More than 73 percent of teens have been touched by cancer yet teens are often an overlooked audience, especially regarding cancer risk factors, prevention and dealing with the social and emotional needs brought about by a cancer diagnosis."

Gilda's Club Seattle is reaching teens where they are already learning—in their high schools. The organization's Cancer Education for Teens (CET) program has been delivered in-person to more than 36,000 teens in 66 Seattle and Puget Sound area high schools. Gilda's Club Seattle also empowers teens to share their thoughts and perspectives through its annual "It's Always Something" Teen Writing Contest. This special project provides a venue for teens in 9th through 12th grades in Washington State and Alaska to give voice to their own experiences with cancer, either their own diagnosis or that of a loved one.

The Winning Plays

Beginning in 2015, Gilda's Club Seattle began offering an online version of CET that provides an e-learning approach to help teens learn about cancer prevention, risk factors, and how to support people with cancer. With this online version of the training, which includes videos and interactive components, Gilda's Club Seattle empowers high schools to provide this important educational opportunity to teens wherever they are.

Learn More

http://www.gildasclubseattle.org

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TAG in Action: Boys & Girls Clubs of America Health and Wellness Great Think

As part of its national call to action, Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG), the Office of Adolescent Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has identified a number of successful strategies for improving adolescent health throughout the country.

The Goal

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America brought together more than 155 experts for a Health & Wellness Great Think to renew their purpose and dialogue around supporting youth health and wellness.

The Game Plan

In recent years, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America has held a series of meetings called “Great Thinks” to spark national thought leadership and grow the capacity of their clubs to better serve children and youth. Health and wellness emerged as a critical issue as Boys & Girls Club staff and volunteers regularly saw the children and youth they serve facing serious health crises including food insecurity, poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, obesity and mental health issues.

At the Health & Wellness Great Think, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America shared its vision for working with clubs to become centers of health and wellness in their communities. Introduced as a framework for creating a “Culture of Wellness,” the Boys & Girls Clubs of America identified four target initiatives: Food Security, Preventative Care, Physical Literacy and Social Emotional Resilience. Participants shared best practices related to each initiative and made recommendations for how community groups can create a safe, healthy, and fun environment where youth thrive.

Following the Great Think, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America developed an action plan to advance health and wellness for youth. Follow-up has included partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to train and implement Healthy Eating Physical Activity (HEPA) standards in clubs and working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to promote enrollment in insurance.

The Winning Plays

Boys & Girls Clubs serve nearly 4 million youth and their families each year, through more than 4,200 club facilities, including 1,520 school-based clubs, 480 youth centers on U.S. military installations worldwide, 960 clubs in rural areas, 290 clubs in public housing, and 170 clubs on Native lands. The out-of-school time programs at Boys & Girls Clubs provide opportunities to teach youth how to lead healthy lifestyles, improve academic success, and build leadership skills. Sage Learn, BGCA Director of Policy and Advocacy, noted that “when you can bring together diverse partners to share best practices - in this case to promote a culture of wellness in our clubs and for our youth - it is really powerful. The Great Think sparked our creativity and spurred us to take new actions, and these new and innovative collaborations have just begun.”

Learn More

http://www.bgca.org/

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TAG in Action: Houston Teen Community Health Workers

As part of its national call to action, Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG), the Office of Adolescent Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has identified a number of successful strategies for improving adolescent health throughout the country.

The Goal

The Houston Health Department Office of Adolescent Health Services’ Teen Community Health Worker program teaches youth about adolescent health resources and risks and how to share health information with their families, communities, and schools.

The Game Plan

Created in Houston, the Teen Community Health Worker program model is derived from the Texas state-certified adult Community Health Worker (CHW) training program. Teens age 13-17 complete a modified version of the CHW curriculum and focus on health concerns that are prevalent among adolescents and common in their communities. The teenagers who complete the program accumulate 40 hours of CHW training, which they can apply to the adult CHW certification program if they are interested in becoming state-certified community health workers at age 18.

Throughout the program, youth learn about traditional health topics such as sexual health and physical activity/nutrition, and less traditional topics including juvenile delinquency, motor vehicle safety, and the social determinants of health. The program also equips the Teen Community Health Workers with skills such as navigating the healthcare system, cultural competency, and locating community resources. Teens involved in the program are expected to relay the information they learn within their homes, schools, and communities. For example, teens set up informational tables in school cafeterias and participate in health fairs and adolescent conferences.

The Winning Plays

The majority of topics covered during the program are topics that teens care about but are not taught during traditional health classes in schools. The program answers questions that teen participants are often afraid to ask parents and teachers, dispels many common misbeliefs, and minimizes the stigma around certain health topics. Kim Williams, Division Manager, noted “this program promotes a strengths-based view of adolescents. We help young people take responsibility for their own health and for promoting healthy communities. Youth are uniquely positioned to be influencers. There is just so much capacity among youth to communicate with their peers. It’s amazing to think about unleashing their power.”

Learn More

http://www.4youthvoice.org

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TAG in Action: Identity Wellness Centers

As part of its national call to action, Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG), the Office of Adolescent Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has identified a number of successful strategies for improving adolescent health throughout the country.

The Goal

Identity Wellness Centers offer a range of programs and services that improve student’s cognitive, physical, social and emotional development.

The Game Plan

Identity was founded in 1998 as a community-based organization to meet the needs of Latino youth and families. Based in Montgomery County, Maryland, Identity now assists more than 3,000 in-school and out-of-school Latino and other vulnerable youth and their families who live in high-poverty areas and who are most at-risk for poor academic and economic outcomes.

Identity is the lead agency at three Montgomery County area high school Wellness Centers. The Wellness Centers provide a broad array of evidence-informed programs and services focused on improving the physical, social, emotional, and mental well-being of the students. The wide variety of programs and support services offered include on-site health screenings and mental health counseling, curriculum-based after-school programs, mentoring and case management services, and restorative practices. In the 2015-16 school year, Identity worked in collaboration with health and youth development partners to serve over 1,300 diverse youth.

In addition to providing school-based health center services, the Wellness Centers offer opportunities for physical activity and recreation, family gatherings, student service learning and youth leadership training. Although the Wellness Centers serve all students enrolled in the school, they specifically target those who have few protective factors or demonstrate risky behaviors. Identity’s annual evaluation of their Wellness Centers’ outcomes demonstrate improvements in students’ emotional well-being, increases in connection to school, and decreases in risky behaviors.

The Winning Plays

Identity meets the needs of the youth they serve by developing comprehensive and integrated programs that respond to specific and evolving community needs. Identity’s Wellness Center model is based on Positive Youth Development concepts and regards youth as assets to be nourished rather than problems to be fixed. Youth are provided with opportunities to forge positive and trusting relationships with caring adults on staff. Staff also work with parents or other key adults in the youth’s life to repair and reconnect the parent-child bond. Carolyn Camacho, Identity Youth Centers Director, shared that “relationships with reliable and caring adults and their peers can be healing for youth facing challenges such as poverty, family separation, discrimination, immigration status, cultural isolation and other traumatic experiences.”

Learn More

https://identity-youth.org/

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TAG in Action: Palm Beach County Birth to 22 Initiative

As part of its national call to action, Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG), the Office of Adolescent Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has identified a number of successful strategies for improving adolescent health throughout the country. One organization in Palm Beach County, Florida serves young people through community collaboration and youth engagement.

The Goal

Birth to 22: United for Brighter Futures (Birth to 22) supports the healthy growth, development, and education of children and youth prenatal through young adulthood, so that they can graduate from high school and succeed in life.

The Game Plan

Birth to 22: United for Brighter Futures is a coalition of more than 60 community partners in Palm Beach County, Florida committed to supporting children and youth to help them become successful adults. Birth to 22 was established following a 2013 Youth Symposium that brought together elected and community leaders. During the event, youth-serving organizations realized that they needed a common agenda with actionable goals to support children and youth. As a result, the participants created the Birth to 22 initiative.

Birth to 22 leadership knew that they needed to leverage the existing coalitions and authentically engage the county’s diverse communities. Leadership decided to utilize the Forum for Youth Investment’s collective impact approach and began their planning by holding several community conversations. A unique feature of this process is that youth were trained and co-facilitated the conversations. More than 700 community members and youth participated in the conversations and six common themes emerged: economics and access; parenting and home environment; social/emotional challenges; educational supports; health and wellness; and community stressors. The work culminated in the Birth to 22 Youth Master Plan entitled “Strengthening the Steps to Success,” which identifies common outcomes, data collection, and action steps for the community.

The Winning Plays

Birth to 22 engaged youth throughout the planning process and continues to do so. Tammy Fields, the Palm Beach County Youth Services Department Director, shared that, “It was very effective to have youth facilitate the community conversations. We didn’t want to lose that momentum. We started a Youth Advisory Council but the youth didn’t like that name. They suggested Future Leaders United for Change, which is much better! The group is comprised of youth that receive our services. They are helping guide our work. For example, the youth explained that they felt guilty getting food for themselves at school when their whole family needed to be fed, so they often refused. As a result, our hunger initiative is providing youth with extra food, such as rice or pasta, which can be stretched to feed the whole family. Over and over, they are showing us how relatively small oversights on our part can dramatically impact youth’s ability or willingness to benefit from our services.”

Learn More

http://pbcbirthto22.com/

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TAG in Action: The Power of One Coach

As part of its national call to action, Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG), the Office of Adolescent Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has identified a number of successful strategies for improving adolescent health. This includes our “Power of One” series about individual efforts to support young people.

The Inspiration

While on vacation in New York, Marc Berk, a volunteer baseball coach in Gaithersburg, Maryland, noticed that those who could not pay the requested fee at museums had to explain why. Berk realized that this process may feel demeaning to people who could not afford the fee, and he decided to look into the fee waiver process for youth sports in his community.

Taking Action

Having coached youth baseball for more than two decades, Berk believes deeply in the value of kids participating in sports that include all youth. In 1997 Berk donated his inheritance from his grandparents and created the Sam and Claire Rosen Sports Fund, a permanent fund that provides sports equipment, supplies, and associated fees to youth in need. Berk saw that this relatively small amount of flexible funding enabled the city to increase low-income youth’s participation in sports leagues.

Following the museum incident, Berk wondered if the $40-$50 registration fee for sports leagues created an additional barrier to youth participation. Drawing on his experience as a health policy researcher, Berk submitted a proposal to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to fund a small project to test whether simplifying the registration waiver process would increase participation. Although very different from his other studies, Berk believed this project was important to the youth in his community.

Making A Difference

Berk’s instincts were correct. A simple change to the waiver process, which permitted a family to request a waiver with no explanation, increased waiver requests by 1200 percent. Overall participation increased by 31 percent, and for children attending high-poverty schools, participation jumped nearly 80 percent. Furthermore, despite the lack of a verification process, there was little evidence of program abuse; 85 percent of residents still paid the full registration fee. Better yet, children who received the waivers had high rates of participation in games and practices.

Although this approach may not be feasible in all communities due to funding constraints or the need for accountability of public funds, Berk believes that other policies could increase participation in youth sports. For example, waiver policies can clearly state the likelihood of getting approved; waivers could be tied to other eligibility criteria such as free and reduced lunch; or applicants could be connected with a contact person, hopefully bilingual, to speak with about waivers. The benefits of such efforts are clear to Berk. As he explained, “There is nothing better than getting kids together on sports teams. It creates bonds, develops leadership skills, and supports both physical and mental health. “

TAG in Action: The Power of One College Student

As part of its national call to action, Adolescent Health: Think, Act, Grow® (TAG), the Office of Adolescent Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has identified a number of successful strategies for improving adolescent health. This includes our “Power of One” series about individual efforts to support young people.

The Inspiration

On his way home from school one day, Rodney Smith, a student at Alabama A&M University, saw an elderly man struggling to mow his lawn and decided to help. Smith set a goal to mow 40 lawns for those without the ability or means to do it themselves. Exceeding expectations, he reached his goal within a month and ultimately completed 100 lawns. Smith saw the positive impact volunteering had on his life, and he realized that something as simple as yard maintenance could help his community raise boys that would become positive adults.

Taking Action

After completing the 100 lawns, Rodney started the Raising Men Lawn Care Service. Young men and young women volunteer to provide lawn care services to the elderly, disabled, veterans and single mothers. They mow, rake leaves or shovel snow. The first few lawns often seem like work to the youth, but Smith noticed that once a volunteer mows their fifth lawn they are energized and often request more work. He developed an incentive for youth similar to the karate belt system. The volunteers receive different colored t-shirts as they reach milestones of providing lawn services to 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 people. The highest level, 50, is a black shirt.

To date, about 60 youth and young adults have volunteered for Raising Men Lawn Care Service in the Huntsville, Alabama area. Raising Men has also started chapters across seven states and in Smith’s home country of Bermuda. A few months ago, Smith decided to expand his reach even further and issued a “50-lawn challenge” to kids worldwide via Facebook. Kids can sign up by sending a picture mowing their first lawn. As they reach a particular milestone, Smith sends them the corresponding t-shirt. Once they hit 50 lawns, he will personally fly to deliver their black shirt. Already, two young people have surpassed 50 yards and gone on reach 100. More than 120 youth have signed up nationwide.

Making A Difference

Smith says that Raising Men is able to keep youth on a positive path by helping them gain a sense of accomplishment, self-esteem, moral value and purpose. “After having such a great experience myself, I wanted to show kids that helping people is cool. I wanted to mentor and demonstrate the importance of giving back to community. I’m able to help, and if you are able, then you should do something to make a difference for someone else. And you can even do it through a lawn mower!”

Learn More

https://www.facebook.com/pg/raisingmenlawncarehsv/about/?ref=page_internal

Content created by Office of Adolescent Health
Content last reviewed on April 13, 2016