Youth Advocates for Community Health

Youth Advocates for Community Health (YACH) are local youth coalitions that focus on policy, systems, and environmental change within their communities to promote youth health and well-being. The YACH model emphasizes the importance of youth-adult partnerships that empower youth to identify assets that promote community health and use PSE (policy, systems, and environmental) change strategies to engage meaningfully in the implementation of their ideas.

Current Dane County YACH Projects

Fitchburg Teen Center

In the Dane County area, there are many community resources that focus on early childhood development and family support. However, there are limited resources and spaces designed specifically for teens. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) during formative adolescent years are associated with long-term health consequences including increased risks for teen pregnancy, sex trafficking involvement, mental illness, substance misuse, suicide ideation, and chronic disease. Overall, there is a great need for teen-specific spaces, to engage socially and receive educational, occupational, community, and health resources.

The Verona Road West area of Fitchburg is identified as a Priority Neighborhood area for increasing access to community opportunities, particularly for youth aged 11-19. In partnership with the City of Fitchburg’s Healthy Neighborhood Initiative and the Fitchburg City Council, the development of a Teen Center was proposed in spring 2021. Phase 1 consists of collecting youth and community input about the proposed Teen Center space. Phase 2 will identify potential building visualizations, recommended programming, and community workshops. Phase 3 will be the construction of the Fitchburg Teen Center.

Phase 1 – Community Engagement Study

Led by EQT by Design and supported by UW-Madison Dane County Extension and Healthy Kids Collaborative, Phase 1 included working with eight teen interns (grades 8-12) who lived in or near the Fitchburg area to gather community input regarding the Teen Center. Strategies to gather youth and community input included: 1) a photovoice model to identify key values for the center: diversity, community connection, safety, health, and education; 2) the development of an youth-designed engagement survey that garnered 200+ youth responses; and 3) youth-led focus groups. Interns aided in the final report and presentation to the Fitchburg City Council on July 27, 2022. View the Zoom recording here and the final report here.

Phase 2 – Feasibility & Design Study

In collaboration with the City of Fitchburg, EQT by Design, JLA Architects, and Hope Community Capital, Phase 2 includes working with eight teens (grades 8-12) who live in or near the Fitchburg area to provide community engagement and community development expertise in the design of the future Fitchburg Teen Center (March – September 2024).

Commercial Tobacco Prevention Youth Coalition

A partnership between FACT Wisconsin, Public Health Madison & Dane County, and UW-Extension. Local youth (grades 8-12) in the Warner Park/North Side area of Madison are engaging in public health outreach and are working together to create peer-to-peer community impact projects that focus on commercial tobacco prevention for youth. View more at the Dane County Alliance Against Commercial Tobacco here.

Download the free Youth Advocates for Community Health Guidebook here.

Why should I use the YACH Guidebook?

  • The guidebook provides tools to implement effective youth participatory action research.
  • It supports the process of young people identifying issues, enhancing awareness of communities, and discover their power to address community issues.
  • It builds leadership skills among youth, increasing competence and confidence to address the social determinants of health, health equity, and community health issues at a policy, systems and environment level.

Contact Staff

Taylor Seale, UW-Madison Division of Extension

Support Extension