National Academy of Medicine

The Power of Youth in Improving Community Conditions for Health

By George Flores, Mary Lou Goeke, Rigoberto Perez
September 07, 2014 | Discussion Paper

Though a common target for health-improving efforts, young people are not often regarded as agents of change for healthier communities. However, a growing number of successful health-supportive policy, environment, and systems-change efforts trace their impetus to youth involvement. Not only are youth proving to be catalysts and prolific communicators in social movements, but their involvement signals a potential for career choices and civic stewardship that portends improving population health and equity in the years to come. An emerging area of research is beginning to show that youth organizing can contribute to both community development and youth development. This discussion paper examines promising models of youth involvement in social movements for better community health, some of which recently came to the attention of the Roundtable on Improving Population Health.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily of the authors’ organizations, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies). The paper is intended to help inform and stimulate discussion. It is not a report of the NAM or the National Academies. Copyright by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.