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District of Columbia, The Office of the State Superintendent of Education
Youth STICC’in 2-getha: Youth, Community, and Policy Maker Collaboration
In November, the Sexually Transmitted Infection Community Coalition (STICC) represented by the Planned Parenthood Ophelia Egypt Center, Sasha Bruce Youthwork, and The Women’s Collective in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH), the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), and DC Public Schools (DCPS) hosted 40 youth for an interactive workshop on the social determinants of reproductive health. Using an exercise called “and then what” small groups worked through scenarios and identified the issues that affect the health of youth. This powerful exercise resulted in the groups identifying education, poverty, boredom and adult youth communication as the key social determinants of reproductive health.
Following this exercise representatives from STICC, OSSE, DOH, and DCPS met to discuss next steps and determined a Youth Summit Planning Committee should be convened. The Youth Summit Planning Committee was convened in January and consisted of 15 youth members with staff from DOH, STICC, OSSE, and DCPS serving as facilitators. The planning committee developed the day’s agenda and activities and served as hosts of the event.
On February 27th, 2010, 50 youth leaders and 20 adult youth workers from eight community based organizations came together for a full day youth summit named Youth STICC’in 2-gether. The purpose of the summit was to prepare youth to look at available youth data on risk behaviors, understand the impact of the data, set priorities and present those priorities to decision makers. The youth planned how the priorities and action items would be presented to the City Council and learned how to utilize photovoice for creative representation of the issues and inform the community and decision makers. Following the summit the youth leaders worked for 8 weeks in small groups to prepare an exhibit of the photovoice project and a presentation for the DC City Council.
On May 25, 2010, Youth STICC, hosted STICC with Us, a photo exhibit and spoken word event. Youth, adults, educators, and policy makers from the District attended this event and heard testimonials from Youth STICC member, spoke with the photographers about their photo depictions of the issues in DC, and took part in an open mic spoken word event.
One June 3, 2010 four representatives from Youth STICC testified in front of the DC Councils Committee on Health on reproductive health issues, adolescent alcohol and drug use, nutrition and physical activity. The hearing room was completely full with over 40 people including youth representing Youth STICC and adults that had worked on this project with them. Additionally the Youth STICC photo exhibit was displayed in the Wilson Building, where the city’s mayor and council offices are located.
The intended short term outcomes of these events are 1.) Ensure that community leaders, residents, media, and policy makers have an understanding of the youth perspective on these issues 2.) Invite dialogue between those making decisions regarding youth and youth themselves and 3.) Allow youth leaders from various organizations to connect and share resources and knowledge. The long term intended outcomes include increased youth involvement in District policy and programming decisions, increased community engagement and partnership around youth sexual health programming, increased capacity through funding and partnership to meet the goals of the Framework.
This project was a great start in developing a mechanism to bring together government agencies, community based organizations, and youth to address policy makers and the community around youth issues. By working with already trained peer educators and youth leaders we were able to build on their existing knowledge and use their influence to reach other youth. While initially the youth brought together were peer leaders with a background in reproductive health the summit was an opportunity for the youth to gain knowledge on other risk behaviors and explore solutions to these issues.