Advocacy is about creating positive, long-lasting, community change.
GHGH advocacy looks like:
1. Supporting youth in developing advocacy skills and knowledge about systems-change
2. Encouraging youth engagement with local decision-makers
3. Advocating on behalf of youth health priorities in Monterey County
GHGH Advocacy 2016
This year builds off of last years’ advocacy wins and research and a youth vision in which school provided counselor services are safe and accessible to all students.
GHGH youth leaders will be targeting below barriers to accessing counselor services at schools:
- School administration policies
- Limitations of quality and quantity of counselor services
- Student’s lack of knowledge about services
GLN members will advocate to improve counselor services at schools in 2016 by:
- Meeting with school administration to discuss and request changes to school policies regarding counselor visitation rights, regulations and confidentiality policies
- Requesting funding from district representatives for increased quality and quantity of counselor services across schools in the county
- Educating students about counselor services available at schools
Want to help make this happen? We are looking for youth allies with following expertise; educational best-practices, counselor services, mental health, financial cost analysis for schools, implementation of new services at schools, investigative journalism, photography and a passion for youth health empowerment.
Want more detailed information about GHGH youth solutions to these issues, check out our blog here.
GHGH Advocacy 2015
GHGH youth leaders or members of the Girls’ Leadership Network (GLN) [i] and youth county-wide, have been building a movement to better support healthy emotional development for young people in Monterey County.
Members of the the GLN have taken this year to revisit GHGH’s 2009 Girl’s Health Action Plan and review the ongoing GHGH program evaluation in order to inform the direction of future GHGH advocacy efforts for social and emotional health. They recognized that GHGH is making a significant impact on program goals but has yet to the strategically impact or advocate for changes in policy or legislation. Specifically, GHGH youth leaders are concerned with how schools can support healthy emotional development as core to academic and life success and as an essential part of their mission (GHGH Action Plan, pgs.9-10). After careful inspection of the action plan and the program data, youth leaders identified non-academic counselor services as a priority resource[ii] that could provide long-term impact for youth social and emotional health development.
To begin addressing this priority, GLN members conducted an initial assessment of available counselor services at their schools. In addition, they facilitated discussions with over 130 participants (from 19 different schools) at the GHGH Health Summit 2015 to uncover barriers and opportunities in accessing counselor services at schools throughout the county.
Their findings revealed that youth identified three main barriers to accessing counselor services, including;
- School administration policies
- Limitations quality and quantity of counselor services
- Student’s lack of knowledge about services
In 2016, GLN members will continue to advocate to improve counselor services at schools by meeting with school administration and district representatives, asking for needed changes addressing quality and quantity of counselor services, and educating students about services available at schools.
GLN members envision a future in which school provided counselor services are safe and accessible to all students.
In 2015, GHGH youth leaders stepped fearlessly into countywide policy and focused on asking county decision-makers for their support in prioritizing social and emotional health.
GHGH Advocacy Wins 2015:
- Monterey County Board of Supervisors passed a GHGH drafted resolution supporting the prioritization of social and emotional health for youth in the County and recognizing the important work of GHGH in providing resources and programs to that end, Spring 2015
- GHGH youth leaders presented to the Board of Education requesting they adopt a similar resolution. Dr. Nancy Kotowski, Monterey County Superintendent of Schools, presented GHGH with the adopted resolution of support from the Board of Education, Fall 2015
- Both resolutions are the first-ever youth drafted resolutions to be adopted in Monterey County.
The support from the Board of Education and Board of Supervisors encourages us to continue working together with the county to improve health resources for youth.
[i] The Girls’ Leadership Network (GLN) is made up of representatives selected from the six partner agency programs to participate in a year-long or multi-year leadership and advocacy training with GHGH. GLN representatives learn advocate for health resources, inform and decide GHGH’s action-plans for advocacy efforts at the county level, act as representatives for participants in their agency programs and their schools at large and plan GHGH community actions, events and activities.
[ii] GLN identify priority resources as resources that are available to all youth in the county not just those who are able to participate in GHGH agency programs.
GHGH Advocacy 2014-2015
43% of girls at the GHGH Summit told us that the most important health issue for youth is Social & Emotional Health. And, we listened.
The Girls’ Leadership Network (GLN) has been hard at work figuring out how to make long-lasting change on social & emotional health. They drafted an awesome Resolution (a document that states why this is an important issue and why it should be supported) and sent it off to the Board of Supervisors for Monterey County. In addition to prioritizing social & emotional health, the Resolution asks that the Board also support the great work of GHGH.
The Resolution was passed by the Board of Supervisors on March 17th, 2015. The Board of Supervisors adopted the GLN drafted resolution which states,
“Therefore, be it resolved, that the County of Monterey Board of Supervisors, on behalf of the county and its citizens thereof, the Board of Supervisors now support the work of Girls’ Health in Girls’ Hands and recognize the importance of social and emotional health education and services for youth in Monterey County.”
What does this mean for GHGH? It’s just the beginning of a long and awesome road to change. This Fall, GHGH looks forward to a presentation to the Board of Education. GHGH will continue to work on the advocacy campaign leading up to the presentation. Some solutions to this issue that GLN members have recommended include; better access to school counselors, training for teachers and counselors and an allocation of funds to ensure continued change.
Need more info? Keep checking in on our blog for updates and feel free to reach out to us via FB, Instagram or our email at [email protected]
Past Advocacy Efforts: 2013-2014 Action Campaign
Bullying and Suicide Prevention
Despite various California State law and local school districts with policies against bullying, girls throughout Monterey County have reported high rates of bullying, cyber-bullying and high rates of teen suicide (16%) throughout the county.
Girls’ Leadership Network (GLN) members noted that more than 1/2 of them had lost friends to suicide. Inspired by the Butterfly Project, they decided that they wanted to help raise awareness and educate others about the root causes of suicide and how to prevent suicide.
GLN formed a Bullying Prevention Committee in late fall of 2013 to investigate current rates of girl suicide, resources available for youth to prevent suicide and strategies for prevention. The GLN created a county-wide Post-A-Smile Campaign to increase self- esteem in girls, combat bullying and thereby decrease rates of suicide.
The GLN formed the Suicide Prevention Committee in late fall 2013 to investigate current rates of girl suicide, resources available for youth to prevent suicide and strategies for prevention. The GLN created a PSA on suicide prevention which they screened at the GHGH Summit on March 1, 2014.
Girl-led Social Change Resources:
- Check out what Girls for a Change is doing! Get a toolkit and other resources to help with your change project!
- Amplify knows how to change the community for the better. Check out their detailed how-to manual to see how they do it.
- MYSISTAHS.ORG is a group of young women working for reproductive justice, one voice at a time.
- About Face doesn’t let the media lie. Check out why media awareness is important and get inspired by some of their actions!
Need inspiration? Want to help GHGH girls change this community for the better? Join a GHGH Club at your school or community site!