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Youth-led Advocacy

Teen Health Council

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The Teen Health Council’s (THC) mission is to improve the health and wellness of Chicago Public Schools through the creation of effective and sustainable youth wellness teams and to increase youth voice in policies related to health of young people in the city.

The Teen Health Council is a group of Chicago youth (age 16-18) that conducts research and creates action plans to improve the physical, mental, and sexual health of the city’s youth. They learn from and propose policy recommendations to both the Chicago Department of Public Health and the CPS Office of Student Health and Wellness; explore careers within the realm of public health, and partner with Lurie Children’s Center on Childhood Resilience to inform their peers about the impact of stress and trauma on mental and physical wellbeing. In 2020-21, THC worked with Lurie to become certified ethical researchers and conduct research to document how COVID-19 has impacted the mental health of Chicago youth.

Noteworthy Achievements

  • Over 125 youth wellness teams have implemented health activism projects in the last five years.
  • Hosted youth health summits to train youth to become health activists in their schools – over 1,000 youth health activists and 100 adult allies have been trained since the inception of the summits in 2010.
  • Recipient of 2016 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Healthy Communities Award as recognition for our work in training and implementing youth wellness teams.
  • Created a Youth Wellness Team Toolkit for youth that serves as a guide for teams to assess and improve the wellness of their schools.
  • Launched www.amindonhealth.com, a mental health resource website for youth in Chicago.
  • Collaborated with the CPS Office of Student Health and Wellness to pass the 2013 Sexual Health Education policy.
  • Created the concept behind the marketing campaign for 2014-2015 Chicago Department of Public Health Condom Availability Program: “Chicagoans Wear Condoms.”

2020 Recommendations

Throughout the summer, Mikva Challenge youth policymakers identified the most pressing issues and inequities currently affecting Chicago youth. At a town hall event, they presented their policy recommendations and identifying ways to take action to turn their vision for our city into a reality. Read the Teen Health Council’s full set of recommendations.

We simply could not have so much impact on the ground with kids without the work of the Mikva Teen Health Council.

Dr. Stephanie Whyte, Chief Health Officer, Chicago Public Schools

Follow Teen Health Council on Twitter and Facebook!
Read the Youth Wellness Teams Toolkit created by the Teen Health Council here.
Read the Council’s Health Ad Concepts to Increase Healthy Choices here.