Reflections from Youth Leaders and the MCH Go Beyond Winner on AMCHP 2017
April 2017

Katherine Harvey
Youth Advisor – Children, Youth, and Families; Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Katherine Harvey with Jocelyn Hernandez and Samuel Ramos

As a young person, it was immensely gratifying to attend the A3 Session at AMCHP, “Fostering Innovation and Collaboration Through Title V to Advance Adolescent and Young Adult Health.” I appreciated that rather than hosting a panel of experts to address a silent crowd, the session used a nontraditional approach called a Samoan Circle to facilitate dialogue and learning. The invited experts on adolescent health formed a small collaborative circle, which session attendees could observe from a surrounding larger circle. Anyone who wanted to was encouraged to join the smaller circle to ask questions or provide additional perspective.

This alternative to the typical conference panel allowed attendees and experts to share speaking time outside of a limiting Q&A approach, which is especially important in fostering a culture of trust, inclusion and shared power with the many young people in the room. As youth, our expertise and insight on our development and health concerns is often passed over in the world of public health professionals. Consequently, the importance of providing spaces that promote youth-adult partnerships, equalize power dynamics and increase recognition of the importance of community engagement at all age levels cannot be overstated. I hope to see the number of similar nontraditional sessions expand with the next conference, as AMCHP staff and conference attendees continue to commit to inclusivity, diversity, and nontraditional partnerships with the communities we serve.

Samuel Ramos
Youth Advisor – Youth and Young Adults Unit of the Children, Youth and Families Branch; Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

The peers and colleagues that we met at AMCHP were from many backgrounds and places other than Colorado. I particularly enjoyed getting to my peers from Puerto Rico. Their advisory council as a whole worked together towards bringing youth trustworthy and accessible information in their communities to spread, and reach a state of health wellness was interesting by itself. Some of the people we met from the council were Delian Colon, Nicole Collazo, Eduardo Andrés Nogueras Gomez and Valeria Flores Morales. There were many more members, but these four council members really stuck out to me.

Delian Colon is a representative of the central area on the island. She brings her experience of public health in the town of Cayey to youth who often feel isolated or uninformed on the different health situations that are going around the island. Nicole Collazo is on the committee as an educator. She teaches youth about health issues that affect their communities by allowing them to make positive contributions in their own way to the community around them. Eduardo Andrés Nogueras Gomez is on the council and involved in a community initiative to help the homeless population, and he is a spokesperson for underrepresented youth. Lastly, Valeria Flores is on the council as a youth leader and informs youth on what health is in Puerto Rico.

Jocelyn Hernandez
Youth Advisor for the Sexual Violence Prevention Unit for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment;
Youth Advisor for the Tony Grampsas Youth Services Program at the Colorado Department of Human Services

My experience at AMCHP was unique and thought-provoking. I learned about what neighboring CoIIN states were doing to promote well-visits among young people. At this meeting I was able to share Colorado’s current activities with my colleagues. After the meeting there was a lot of conversation and room for collaboration between all of us health professionals. It was an incredible opportunity to be able to interact with them on a direct, professional-to-professional basis. We also took advantage of the photo exhibit to discuss more on youth health and how to best serve them.

During the youth-specific workshops we were in, I interacted with the youth council from Puerto Rico and became more informed about the Zika virus. They were very informative, and it was incredible to see and hear all the knowledge from the mouths of other young people.

Overall, my experience at AMCHP was a memorable one. I hope to come back in the future and create more of a stir for young people to be represented.

Omoshalewa Bamkole
MPH Candidate 2017, Behavioral Science and Health Education
Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University

My professional interests are to work on regional and national efforts to promote and improve access and availability of services for underserved groups to establish lasting patterns of care and health maintenance.

At AMCHP I networked with a variety of MCH professionals and students. Learning of their passions was valuable, and their stories are ones that I have taken with me and shared with others in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University community during an MCH student breakfast. Through my presentation, I believe I encouraged my peers to see this conference as an opportunity to learn about what is going on nationally in the MCH arena, to network with MCH professionals and students, and to share some of their own ideas for the future of MCH programming and collaboration in this country.

Presently, I am determining my steps following the completion of my master’s degree in public health. AMCHP surpassed my expectations in terms of providing valuable content, skills development, and opportunities to meet professionals and students from around the country. Overall, I left the conference with renewed confidence in my abilities and accomplishments, and feeling empowered and comfortable with my current trajectory. I am thankful to those at Go Beyond and the AMCHP application committee for making all this possible.