On Wednesday, May 18, over 100 students and adult allies from across Illinois visited the State Capitol to share their voice with state legislators as part of EverThrive Illinois’ Annual Youth Advocacy Day. Youth champions advocated for legislators to pass a budget that protects school health center (SHC) funding. These centers enable children and adolescentsto access the comprehensive health services they need.
Throughout the morning, groups of high school students participated in more than five legislative meetings. Students met with Representatives Greg Harris, Art Turner, Pamela Reaves-Harris, Jaime Andrade, and Jehan Gordon-Booth. One student from RTC Med Prep described her legislator as “very excited to hear us talk about healthcare and why we feel so strongly about the topic.” Students also had the opportunity to observe their legislators in action during committee hearings.
Students, adult allies, and elected officials then gathered in the Capitol Rotunda for an uplifting rally to conclude the day’s activities. Representatives Art Turner, Elgie Sims, Pamela Reaves-Harris, Greg Harris, Lisa Hernandez, and Robyn Gabel, along with Senators Heather Steans, David Koehler, Daniel Biss, Donne Trotter, and Melinda Bush delivered inspiring speeches in support of adolescent health, school health centers, and active political participation.
Youth advocates also shared the spotlight at the afternoon’s rally, telling their peers why advocating for adolescent health is meaningful for them. Valiant young leaders told personal stories of why school health centers are important for them and their communities. One student declared that the most valuable part of Youth Advocacy Day was “hearing why health care is important to other students like us and to hear the legislators support us." Students also exclaimed that "it's an incredible experience," and that “our vote is important and nothing will happen if we don’t speak up,” when explaining why they would attend another advocacy event.
This event was a collaborative effort brought together by EverThrive Illinois and the following organizations:
- Roosevelt High School
- Uplift Community High School
- Orr Academy High School
- RTC Med Prep High School
- Simpson Academy
- Woodruff Career and Technical Center
- Manual High School
As we look to Advocacy Day 2017, please email Kristen Nuyen or reach her by phone 312-491-8161 x25, if you are interested in receiving information on next year's activities!