Teens to Legislators: Safeguard Policies and Services that Protect Youth
More than 250 youth visit legislators to discuss teen pregnancy prevention, access to care, and adolescent well-being
Durham, N.C. (March 2, 2011) – On Wednesday, March 2, nearly 250 North Carolina youth met at the North Carolina General Assembly to send a message to legislators: protect the services and policies that help youth stay healthy. The youth and youth-serving advocates were participants in Adolescent Health Advocacy Day.
Adolescent Health Advocacy Day, now in its 9th year, allows young people from across the state to visit with their legislators to advocate for the issues that affect them most. This year, participants focused on the broad categories of teen pregnancy prevention, access to care, and adolescent well-being.
Representative Diane Parfitt and Representative Jean Farmer-Butterfield welcomed the youth to Raleigh, noting the importance of legislators hearing a youth perspective on adolescent health issues.
Before meeting with their individual legislators, participants joined in an open panel discussion with youth and legislators in the Auditorium at the Legislative Building at 16 W. Jones Street. Panelists included Senator Stan Bingham, Senator Bill Purcell, and Representative Rick Glazier. Panel topics included the success of the Healthy Youth Act, the importance of preserving cost-saving teen pregnancy prevention initiatives and school-based health centers in budget negotiations, and the benefits of the state’s landmark 2009 anti-bullying bill.
In one particularly poignant moment, an audience member shared her experience of having been sexually assaulted in middle school and being bullied as a result. She issued a personal thanks to Representative Glazier for being such a strong advocate for the state’s anti-bullying law.
“North Carolina has been nationally recognized for its progress for serving youth, including our declining teen pregnancy rate, an award-winning school-based health center infrastructure, and a model anti-bullying law,” said Kay Phillips, executive director of the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina (APPCNC), the group that organized the event. “Today we’re thanking legislators for their contributions to that success, and asking them to make smart decisions that will help us continue making progress.”
Representative Alma Adams delivered a strong closing speech, reminding the youth that legislators work for the people of North Carolina and urging them to make their voices heard.
In total, more than 250 youth representing more than 35 organized groups and 17 counties participated in the day’s events.
Issue papers from the event are available at www.appcnc.org/legislative-priorities.