PATCH gives youth opportunity to give input on health care practices, policies

PATCH gives youth opportunity to give input on health care practices, policies

Delanie Johnson La Crosse Community Foundation

PATCH believes that health care practices, programs and policies should be developed with young people rather than just for them. After all, who could be better than teens at providing insight into the needs and desires of teens?

PATCH — an acronym for Providers and Teens Communicating for Health — has been part of La Crosse County since 2018. It works directly with young people, called teen educators and advocates, to ensure their voices are included in decisions that affect them, with the ultimate goal being to improve adolescent health care quality and their generation’s overall health and well-being.

The participants’ stories, experiences, perspectives and insights help spark productive conversations, fresh thinking, and bold and lasting change for their generation and future generations, according to PATCH La Crosse Site Coordinator Delanie Johnson.

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As a program of a small nonprofit, PATCH La Crosse is always seeking wraparound funding to help cover general programming costs, especially those related to staffing and teen educators. Funds are also used to help compensate guest speakers and pay for resources related to adolescent health care. If you’d like to support PATCH, visit lacrossegivingcatalog.com.

What’s one of the best ideas you’ve seen from a teen educator?

Teen educators proposed and created a self-care day. The idea for self-care day was generated from learning about mental health during one of our enrichment meetings. Activities during self-care day have ranged from designing journals, developing soothing playlists and cooking healthy food, ultimately putting into action the knowledge they have gained from our guest speakers. Teen educators have said that engaging in this self-care day has allowed them to enhance their relationships as team members and improve their own mental health, allowing them to reapproach their work, school and personal lives with a fresh perspective.

If you could choose any famous character (fictional or real) to serve as a teen educator, who would it be?

I posed this question to the teen educators as I thought they would be the best in answering what fictional character they might look to be a role model. When discussing this question with the teens, we determined that Hermione Granger (a character in the “Harry Potter” book series) would be an awesome teen educator! She is passionate, inspiring, helpful, and she stands up for what she believes in. We know that Hermione would be able to take the initiative, help educate others, and advocate for teen health rights. She isn’t afraid to make changes, even if it’s not the easiest path, thus would be a great teen educator creating change in her community!

In your work with youth, what do you see that indicates our future is in good hands?

I get to work with a range of youth from many different walks of life. The passion, the ambition and the creativity that this group of young people have is what tells me our future is hopeful and bright. The work these teens do, the connections they make, and the experiences they gain along the way contribute to a better understanding of what improved health can look like in their communities. Their continued commitment to educating their peers creates an atmosphere of optimism that this upcoming generation is prepared to make a change and provide improved health for everyone in their communities. Not only do these teen educators inspire their peers, but they also inspire me to be a better advocate and help them achieve change.

Good Works is a feature provided by the La Crosse Community Foundation highlighting the work of non-profit areas that give back to the community. More information and opportunities to support these organizations can be found online at lacrossegivingcatalog.org.

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