Mobilize Youth for Healthy Change!

Did you know 1 in 8 U.S. youth ages 16-24 are not in school and not working?

Kymberly Lacrosse working with youth from Jovenes Sanos.

These youth—called “disconnected”—face hurdles as they become adults. This includes lower rates of education, and higher rates of poverty and unemployment.

Most youth want to be connected.

In fact, 93% of U.S. youth say they are interested in volunteering. But only a fraction end up taking the steps needed to actually become involved, according to

That’s where you come in!

Why You?

If you’ve found this page, you’re a parent, school, or community leader who wants to make a change.

Engaging and mobilizing youth can inform, improve, and amplify your efforts. And, in turn, it helps youth build a peer and mentor support network, while gaining leadership skills, advocacy experience, self esteem, education, and more.

Why Youth?

jovenes sanos youth engagement mobilization advocate californiaYouth advocates can drive health policy and system changes.

“[A youth advocate is a] young person (15-25 years) who uses lived experiences to educate, inform, motivate and inspire others in an effort to create positive systems change,” according to Youth M.O.V.E. National, Inc.

How Does Youth Mobilizing Work?

Just think, “Positive Youth Development (PYD).”

PYD is an approach that engages youth within their various settings. It recognizes, utilizes, and enhances young people’s strengths. It promotes positive outcomes for young people by providing opportunities, fostering positive relationships, and furnishing the support needed to build on their leadership strengths.

What Do You Need to Do?

Research has proven five key steps:

  1. Engage diverse organizations and community leaders.
  2. Activate youth and establish meaningful roles.
  3. Hold brainstorming sessions and train youth.
  4. Conduct a needs assessment and work with youth to address most pressing issues.
  5. Seek support from leaders and policy makers at all levels to promote youth leadership.

How Have Latino Youth Been Mobilized?

Latino youth push for healthy bus station food. In Santa Cruz County, California, a youth advocacy and leadership group called Jóvenes SANOS was concerned about the lack of healthy choices at bus stations. They worked with the city to draft a healthy food and drink policy. The youth presented the policy for final approval at a Santa Cruz Metro Board meeting. Now 50% of vending machine options at bus offices and stations must meet the healthy nutrition standards. Share on Facebook

Latino youth spur corner store makeover. Members of the youth advocacy and leadership group called Jóvenes SANOS approached Martin and Miguel Ramirez, brothers and owners of corner store Vicky’s Produce in Santa Cruz County, Calif. The youth rearranged items and stocked shelves to make healthier items, like salads, more visible. They also helped create a new mural at the storefront that focuses on the healthier fruits and veggies offered there. Share on Facebook

Latino youth spur healthier restaurant menus. Faced with abundant fast food, community organizer Kymberly Lacrosse and the youth group she mentors, Jóvenes SANOS wanted to help. The youth first wanted to ban fast food. But after realizing how such a ban might impact the economy, they shifted toward how to promote healthier choices. They presented to city leaders, who approved a new ordinance to encourage food outlets to expand their healthy menu offerings and provide nutrition and calorie information on all items. Share on Facebook

Latina teens use photos to drive healthy change. A Connecticut nonprofit taught a group of Latina teens how to take photos and share those photos with city leaders to inspire healthy change—a technique called photovoice. Their efforts helped unite the nonprofit, the New Britain YWCA, and New Britain High School, who together pushed to establish an after-school PE credit recovery program. Now, Latina girls are getting the physical education they need to lead a healthy lifestyle. The effort is resulting in other healthy changes, too. Share on Facebook

What Issues Can Youth Help Tackle in Your Community?

The Salud America! Health Equity Report Card highlights health issues in your county with data, policy solutions, research, and stories so you can start and support healthy changes for Latino kids.

Go here to enter your location!

How Can You Get Help Mobilizing Youth?

Many groups organizations are already working in youth engagement:

In San Antonio, check out:

  • MOVE San Antonio offers volunteer opportunities in voter registration, calling voters, issue organizing, office work and data entry, and fellowships.
  • The San Antonio Mayor’s Fitness Council offers a Student Ambassadors program to engage grade-school students in health advocacy in schools.

How Can You Get Funding for Youth-Engaged Programs?

FCYO has CURRENT GRANT OPPORTUNITIES and TOOLKITS on how to organize, fund, and cultivate youth advocates.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email us!