Engage Youth

The Health Department works to support or engage adolescents in promoting their own health and healthy development. This approach allows youth to share insights, take leadership roles, get involved with their community, build organizational leadership skills and self-esteem, and create and share important information with their peers and others who serve youth. Here are several Vermont youth engagement opportunities:  

Adolescent Young Adult Health Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (AYAH-CoIIN)

CoIIN is a team of self-motivated people with a collective vision who are enabled by technology to achieve a common goal by sharing ideas, information and work. Vermont was one of five states chosen to participate in this first CoIIN dedicated to the adolescent and young adult population. This work focuses on discovering, identifying, and implementing evidence-informed strategies to increase access to health care visits for adolescents and young adults and to improve the quality of these visits. All school-aged children should have a well-care visit each year in their medical home according to Bright Futures. In addition to the provider practice-based work, Vermont’s CoIIN team formed a Vermont Youth Health Advisory Council to support these efforts. The Health Department works closely with the Youth Health Improvement Initiative at the University of Vermont’s Vermont Child Health Improvement Program (VCHIP) on these activities.

Adolescent and Young Adult Health Collaborative Innovation & Improvement Network

Vermont’s CoIIN team includes partners from the Health Department, VCHIP, Agency of Human Services, Vermont chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Academy of Family Physicians, University of Vermont, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont, local pediatricians and a young adult representative. Vermont team members may also participate on national strategy teams through the AYAH National Resource Center to develop strategies for increasing the rate of adolescents and young adults who receive well-care visits, improving the quality of these visits, and creating policies to help improve quality and access.    

For more information about the AYAH-CoIIN or the Vermont Youth Health Advisory Council: Youth Health Improvement Initiative.

Vermont Youth Health Advisory Council (YHAC)

YHAC is a diverse group of adolescents and young adults age 16 to 26 who are committed to improving adolescent health and wellbeing in Vermont. The Council aims to voice the views of young adults about access to health care. One of the Council's first projects is to support the Adolescent and Young Adult Health Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (AYAH-CoIIN) project here in Vermont. This involves helping five medical practices optimize the quality of adolescent well-care visits and become more youth friendly. YHAC seeks to encourage adolescent and young adult involvement in improving adolescent health care. For more information about YHAC, visit the Youth Health Improvement Initiative at the University of Vermont’s Vermont Child Health Improvement Program (VCHIP).

Getting to ‘Y’ and Mindset, Metacognition and Motivation

The Health Department partners with Up for Learning to support two youth engagement projects:

Getting to ‘Y’: Youth Bring Meaning to Their Youth Risk Behavior Survey: Vermont public schools that complete the Youth Risk Behavior Survey and participate in this program have an opportunity to send a team of students with an adult advisor to a training where they learn how to organize their own retreat to analyze data and produce a Student Executive Summary. This summary includes three strengths, three areas of concern, and a preliminary plan of action, based on an exploration of root causes. They also learn how to host a community dialogue event to share their executive summary with the school and community and lead multi-generational discussions. Each school group receives ongoing coaching as they combine all they have learned to frame the next action steps, which the group then implements and assesses.

M3: Mindset, Metacognition and Motivation:  The more students know about how they learn and believe in their potential as learners, the more successful they will be. Focusing on these influential factors improves student ownership of their learning, and access to opportunities available through personalized learning plans and proficiency-based learning. The M3: Mindset, Metacognition and Motivation project is a means to these ends. Youth become messengers with their advisory group peers, sharing the latest research and learning implications relating to:

  • Mindsets: a critical examination of both youth and adults’ ingrained beliefs about ability and the role of self-expectations and others’ expectations on academic performance and life in general,
  • Metacognition: learning about how we learn, and
  • Motivation: key variables that impact the level of learning engagement.

The M3 project begins with establishing a youth-adult M3 lead team that will:

  1. lead an hour long faculty meeting to introduce the initiative
  2. distribute weekly faculty information sheets on creating a growth mindset culture
  3. recruit peer co-facilitators and lead 10 advisory sessions
  4. submit personalized letters to the editor to their local papers 
  5. walk the talk of growth mindsets in the process. The team’s goal is to create culture shift in their school that supports student engagement and self-efficacy, builds intrinsic motivation, and fosters a growth mindset for both faculty and students. 

All Lead Team members attend two orientation day trainings in the fall, plan an on-site youth facilitator training supported by M3 faculty, and meet regularly to implement all aspects of this project.

Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP)

Authorized by Congress as part of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) teaches about abstinence and contraception for the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. Vermont’s PREP program also covers three adult preparation topics: Healthy Relationships, Healthy Life Skills, and Adolescent Development. Vermont PREP provides funding to youth-serving community-based organizations to help support implementation of an evidence-based curriculum. For more information about PREP, visit the Adolescent Sexual Health webpage.

Vermont Youth Service System Enhancement Council

The Youth Service Systems Enhancement Council promotes shared responsibility across state and community stakeholders for achieving positive outcomes for youth and young adults in Vermont. The Council promotes, advocates for, and monitors the continued evolution of culturally competent, holistic, strengths-based service systems for young people, advocates for improved quality of and access to these services, organizes policy responses to remove barriers to achieving these goals, and involves youth, parents and communities in designing these services. For more information about the Council and its work, contact Sara Chesbrough at (802) 863-7268 or sara.chesbrough@partner.vermont.gov.

The Vermont Youth Treatment Enhancement Program

The Vermont Youth Treatment Enhancement Program aims to enhance the response of Vermont’s youth-focused behavioral health treatment system to adolescents and transitional youth in need. Its goals are to:

  • Expand and enhance assessment, treatment, and recovery systems for adolescents, transitional aged youth, and their families, by:
    • Improving access to care
    • Reducing obstacles to care
    • Enhancing existing services and adding options for care, through training on effective substance abuse treatment models for youth and young adults
  • Build a foundation for sustaining an effective, integrated treatment system
  • Decrease differences in access, service use, and outcomes among youth populations vulnerable to health disparities
  • Create a partnership to guide and sustain statewide systems change efforts and to address obstacles to providing effective, preventive and coordinated services to youth
Vermont Kids Against Tobacco (VKAT) and Our Voices Exposed (OVX)

VKAT: This is a peer-led group that was started in 1995 to educate kids (5th to 8th grade) about the real dangers of tobacco use.

OVX: This is a high school-aged, youth-led movement against tobacco to educate, inform and empower teens to reduce smoking among their peers. The OVX effort allows youth to address, educate, and help reduce tobacco's impact on their lives and those of their peers.

Additional Youth Engagement Resources

Office of Adolescent Health:

Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs:

Georgetown University – MCH Navigator:

University of California, San Francisco:

National Network of State Adolescent Health Coordinators:

American Academy of Pediatrics:

Youth Thrive

Act for Youth Center of Excellence