Youth Engagement and the Youth Advisory Council

Youth advisory council graphic with pictures and images of young people and washington animals.

Adolescent and Young Adult Health Youth Advisory Council

Public health needs young people’s voices!

We value the insight, expertise, experiences, and contributions of adolescents and young adults -- they know what public health issues are important to young people and what solutions will work.

  • To help create a structure for DOH to regularly talk with and learn from youth, we invited Washington's young people to apply to be a member of the second generation of the WA State Department of Health's Youth Advisory Council. Also known as the YAC or the Council, members meet with DOH's Adolescent Health staff on a regular basis to discuss adolescent and young adult health topics. Their insight helps guide public health work to make sure that Department of Health (DOH) strategies are relevant, accessible, and youth friendly.
  • Learn more below and in our one-pager (PDF) in English and Spanish. Additional languages available by request

About the YAC

What is the YAC?

It is a community engagement group of diverse young people from around Washington. This group helps the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) learn about the public health topics that are important to young people. Members share ideas, opinions, and recommendations about health care, including challenges and barriers young people face accessing and using health care services and systems, what health care topics and information are important to young people, and solutions and innovations needed to support young Washingtonians to reach optimal health and wellbeing.

What does the YAC do?

The YAC meets online (on Zoom) every other month for about an hour and a half. During meetings, members share thoughts, discuss, and make recommendations about current adolescent and young health topics, including:

  • Reproductive health
  • Physical health
  • Mental and behavioral health
  • Youth-friendly care
  • Confidentiality
  • Well-care visits
  • Healthy relationships and teen dating
  • Food and nutrition
  • Immunizations

Members join DOH staff to plan and facilitate meetings.

  • YAC members can join topic-specific subcommittees and collaborate directly with DOH program staff in Family Planning/Contraception, Gender-Based Violence, Healthy Eating, Suicide Prevention, Substance-Use Prevention, and Sexual Health.
  • Members also review and give feedback on adolescent health materials, like flyers, surveys, projects, and webpages.
  • DOH asks member to serve for 22 months between March 2023 and December 2024.

          Member Expectations

          What are the expectations of YAC members?
          • Help DOH staff create a safe and inclusive space that welcomes young people from different backgrounds, identities, life experiences, thoughts, and opinions.
          • Maintain confidentiality – this means not sharing sensitive/personal details outside of the meeting space.
          • Attend the first meeting in spring 2023 and at least 80% of the remaining meetings.
          • Be open and willing to discuss topics proposed by DOH staff.
          • Give feedback on Adolescent Health materials, including social media posts, communications materials, and program documents.
          • Represent the DOH YAC at community events, including schools and school districts, conferences, DOH meetings, etc.
          What do members get if they join?
          • You can help DOH experts decide how best to deliver public health services to young people.
          • You can learn and practice your leadership skills and receive mentoring from public health experts.
          • You can find out about public health programs or projects serving adolescents and young adults.
          • Get volunteer or community service hours
          • Get a $50 Amazon e-gift card after every meeting or activity.

          Member Selection

          Who is on the YAC?

          DOH staff reviewed and scored applications over 250 applications from young people all over Washington. We looked closely at applicant responses and scored them using a scoring rubric. We selected 35 applications that received the highest scores, showed clear interest in public health, health care improvement, and had the following characteristics:

          • Members' ages range from 13 to 22.
          • We included young people from all over the state, and with a variety of racial, ethnic, cultural, and economic backgrounds and identities.
          • We selected young people who shared unique perspectives and experiences in health care or with other institutional systems.
          • We prioritized applicants from communities most affected by health care inequities, who are part of a community that has experienced racism and other forms of discrimination, and who are underrepresented groups in public health.

          Questions and Translations

          How can I learn more?
          How can I request the YAC application in another language?

          Please go to our Translations Page for applications in Spanish, Arabic, Russian, and Vietnamese. Or, reach out to Alexis Bates, adolescent health consultant, to complete your application in another language.