Date: April 8th, 2015
By: Pat Paluzzi
Healthy Teen Network has been on an interesting journey over the past few years, starting in 2012 with our most recent strategic planning. In assessing our members, colleagues, project officers, and funders, we heard loud and clear that people want a better way to talk about, to advocate for adolescent health. Too often, teen pregnancy/STI/HIV prevention efforts become mired in political debate, and the common goal, to support and empower adolescents and young adults to lead healthy and fulfilling lives, is lost.
How do we come together, in what is an undeniably important vision—healthy and fulfilling lives for all youth? How do we move beyond risk and prevention to consider the full scope of health? How do we address all of the factors that influence young people’s lives? How can we encourage collaboration and increase our impact?
Healthy Teen Network started to put together a “road map” for adolescent health in our 2013-2016 strategic plan. We knew we needed to emphasize the importance of evidence-based programs, while also inspiring innovation. We also knew we needed a better way to talk about “prevention,” or rather, a more comprehensive, holistic way to talk about adolescent health.
And so, we started talking about the social-ecological model and social determinants of health. But how do you make this theory understandable and applicable to our efforts? How do you link the theory to an approach, and how do you advocate for your approach? We knew we needed a better way to talk the talk of the social-ecological model and social determinants of health…we needed a frame.
Over time, in talking through the theory amongst ourselves, we starting hearing ourselves saying the same thing…how and where youth live, learn, and play matters. We need to address all of the factors that affect young peoples’ lives (the social determinants of health) if we want to make a difference. And this is how, in 2013, we came to create our frame, Youth 360°, to explain and advocate for a holistic approach to adolescent health.
So we had the assessment, we had the plan, and now we had the language, the frame…but still, we knew we had more work to do. Thus began our process to examine our internal organizational practices. Are we walking the walk? Are we living Youth 360°? This introspection led us to review (and potentially revise) our mission in late 2014.
You can probably guess where we landed. After a careful and thoughtful process, we affirmed the need to tweak our mission, vision, and guiding principles. We’re still Healthy Teen Network, but we want to ensure we are adopting this approach thoroughly, both internally in our practices and structure (and mission) as well as externally, through our capacity-building assistance.
Let us know what you think…and also, we’d love to hear if you’re having similar conversations in your organization. How are you walking the walk of Youth 360°?
Healthy Teen Network envisions a world where all adolescents and young adults lead healthy and fulfilling lives.
Healthy Teen Network promotes better outcomes for adolescents and young adults by advancing social change, cultivating innovation, and strengthening youth-supporting professionals and organizations.
- Rights: A more just and equitable world supports and empowers all adolescents and young adults—including teen parents—to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.
- Individuality: All adolescents and young adults, including pregnant and parenting teens, deserve respect, appreciation, and acceptance for their unique strengths, talents, and potential.
- Youth 360°: How and where youth live, learn, and play matters … and needs to be addressed to achieve better outcomes.
- Evidence: Evidence-based strategies and approaches are effective and efficient ways to achieve positive outcomes.
- Innovation: Innovation is a critical component of a comprehensive strategy to respond to the dynamic lives of adolescents and young adults.
- Youth Centered: Youth-centered strategies and approaches are critical to empower young people.
- Access: All adolescents and young adults, including teen parents, have a right to comprehensive, developmentally and culturally appropriate, confidential support and services, including contraceptive services, and if pregnant, to full options counseling and services.
About the Author
Patricia Paluzzi, CNM, DrPH, President and CEO of Healthy Teen Network, has been active in the fields of reproductive, and maternal and child health for over 40 years, as a clinician, researcher, administrator, and advocate. Her clinical and content expertise spans the full scope of midwifery care, substance abuse, intimate partner violence, high-risk maternal child health (including pregnant teens), incorporating men into clinical services, and trauma-informed approaches.