Youth to Legislators: Protect Our Health

On February 13, more than 200 youth visited the North Carolina General Assembly to talk to legislators about health issues. The 9th biennial Adolescent Health Advocacy Day (AHAD) focused on student well-being and mental health, access to health care, and teen pregnancy prevention.

In addition to participating in an issues forum, youth took time to visit each of their legislators to talk one-on-one about their concerns.

The Issues

This year’s AHAD participants focused on three issues:

Student Well-Being and Mental Health

Access to Health Care

Teen Pregnancy Prevention

Many key indicators – from teen smoking rates to teen pregnancy – have improved in recent years, largely because of supportive public policies and programs. However, many of those programs were cut or threatened in last year’s legislative session.  Youth asked legislators to protect or restore helpful programs.

Learning From Experience

A bipartisan panel of youth and legislators was one of AHAD’s highlights. Teens from Thomasville and Raleigh joined Representative Rick Glazier, Senator Shirley Randleman, Senator Gladys Robinson, and Senator Louis Pate, as well as Chapel Hill Town Council Member (and former AHAD youth participant) Lee Storrow as panelists.

Panelists discussed their experiences with youth health issues, and took the opportunity to get feedback from each other on topics including minor’s right to consent to medical care, youth suicide, bullying, and school-based health centers.