Peer Health Exchange Youth Advocates Build Solutions for Systemic Change

National health equity nonprofit organization Peer Health Exchange (PHE) is empowering young people to address challenges facing their communities through its Community Youth Advocates (CYA) Group.

Oakland, CA, April 16, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Peer Health Exchange Community Youth Advocates Group is one of four groups that make up Peer Health Exchange’s Youth Advisory Board. The CYA group provides a platform for young advocates, aged 13-18, to voice their concerns and actively make positive change. Youth participants are incentivized by Peer Health Exchange, and meet virtually, on a weekly basis to identify obstacles facing their peers and communities, co-create solutions, and implement these mechanisms to affect change.  

Facilitated by PHE Community Liaisons, the group currently in its second year, is comprised of 16 young people. Joleen Wong, a member of CYA since 2022, shared her experience saying, “I wanted to address what I’ve seen in my own community, and help create solutions alongside young people across the nation.” Joleen worked on a CYA project last year focused on women and birthing individuals’ health and reproductive rights. Her initiative strategized to spread knowledge and debunk related myths and assumptions by creating videos and engaging content to publish on PHE social media channels. “Working on this project taught me communication skills, confidence, and how to highlight traditionally taboo (but important) topics through social media marketing. It’s important that young people also evaluate the work, since they know their peers and themselves best.”  
The CYA group meets weekly to develop a project, which, from brainstorming to implementation, takes about one year. Community Liaison, Yaritsa Sanchez leads five young people who are passionate about solutions to youth homelessness. “We are partnering with organizations that work with youth who are unhoused or navigating the foster care system to create a workshop on using LinkedIn and other social media apps as tools to find job opportunities. Also, in May, we will host a screening and discussion of the documentary Lost in America, which chronicles homelessness experienced by youth in the U.S.” Eduardo Ildefonso, a Community Liaison based in New York, leads four young people focused on higher education and marginalized people. “I support by linking our members to leaders, resources, and opportunities to spread the message about their project. It is very exciting to see young people create change in their communities starting from a simple idea,” he explained. 

Pritika Kharkwal is member of a CYA initiative working on a camp focused on social media’s impact on youth mental health. She said, “We noticed the gap in society when it came to digital media and its impact, pros AND cons, on mental health.” The young people organized guest speakers, mental health content, and an interactive Q&A session. “The camp will reach various community members including parents, teachers, educators and of course, youth! Youth are the next generation, and we can only push for positive change in the community if we are actively involved in building the future we envision.” Pritika explained. 

To join next year’s cohort of the Community Youth Advocates, apply here. For more information about Peer Health Exchange and its other youth engagement work, please visit

About Peer Health Exchange 

Peer Health Exchange’s (PHE) mission is to build healthier communities with young people. Together, we create education opportunities for peers to share the tools and resources young people need to make healthy decisions. With our partners, we advance health equity and improve health outcomes for young people in under-resourced communities. For safe, relatable, inclusive, and engaging content on mental health, relationships, identity, and sexual health, follow Peer Health Exchange on Tik Tok, Facebook, Instagram, and X. 


Community Youth Advocates Graphic

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