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Good Works: PATCH provides opportunities for young people to provide input on health care practices and policies

Good Works: PATCH provides opportunities for young people to provide input on health care practices and policies
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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 teenagers at providing insight into teenagers’ needs and wants?

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

Participants’ stories, experiences, perspectives and insights help spark productive conversations, new ideas and bold, lasting change for their generation and future generations, according to Delanie Johnson, site coordinator at PATCH La Crosse.

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

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

The adolescent educators proposed and created a day dedicated to self-care. The idea for the self-care day came from learning about mental health at one of our enrichment meetings. Activities throughout the self-care day ranged from designing magazines, developing relaxing playlists and cooking healthy food, finally putting the knowledge gained from our guest speakers into action. Educators for teens said engaging in this self-care day allowed them to improve their relationships as team members and improve their mental health, allowing them to reconnect with work, school and personal life with a new prospect.

If you could choose one famous person (fictional or real) to be a teen educator, who would it be?

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

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

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

Good Works is a feature provided by the La Crosse Community Foundation that highlights the work of area nonprofits 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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