Since 2008, YES! has trained more than 18,000 youth and adults on the YES! Youth Empowerment Model— helping them work together to create youth-driven action plans to address adolescent health issues, put those plans into action through advocacy, and change their communities for the better.
YES! youth staff are the driving force behind the work that we do as an organization to positively impact adolescent health. In YES!’s fiscal year 2016, YES! youth and adult staff helped to change 25 systems, policies and environments, across 18 states, through 20 partners and projects, impacting 1,256,129 people.
Below are some local community change efforts that YES! youth have been a part of over the years.
– In 2008, after youth went district by district gathering community support and presenting to school boards to adopt tobacco-free campuses, they approached the state legislature to pass a statewide law, ensuring that youth across the state would have access to a healthy, tobacco-free learning environment in all 115 North Carolina school districts.
– Since 2009, YES! has been funded to provide training to the North Carolina Preventing Underage Drinking Initiative, a taskforce of youth and adults working on collaboratives across the state to prevent underage drinking. The CDC’s 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that between 2009 and 2013 there was a 3 percent drop in the number of North Carolina youth who were drinking alcohol. Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, this 3 percent drop equates to 19,788 fewer youth drinking alcohol.
– YES! youth were at the forefront of the movement to build support for smoke-free restaurants across the state. A North Carolina state law followed in 2010.
– In 2010, youth successfully advocated to prevent Budweiser from gaining the naming rights to the Raleigh, N.C. downtown amphitheater helping to avoid exposure to alcohol advertising for hundreds of thousands of youth and adults over the life of the sponsorship.
– In 2013, YES! youth spearheaded a lunchroom redesign at Myers Park High School in Charlotte N.C. to make the healthy option the easy option for students. YES! staff also created the YES! School Lunchroom Redesign Toolkit as a guide for youth interested in replicating the work to redesign the lunchrooms at their own schools.
– In 2014, YES! youth advocated for the inclusion of youth voice in the statewide North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) Task Force on Patient and Family Engagement. As a result, the NCIOM created two spots for youth on the 52-member task force and a YES! youth staff member was selected as the first youth member.
– YES! partnered with the People’s Voice on Transportation Equality campaign to advocate for changes to the Asheville, N.C. public transit system to benefit the people who use the system the most. In 2014, the transit committee agreed to create a committee position for a non-elective rider (a person who uses public transit out of necessity). In addition, the Asheville City Council voted to include funding to extend Sunday bus service in 2015 and improve one of the bus routes.