At the end of July, more than 150 peer health educators from 13 states and 31 Teen Councils joined together in Washington D.C. for Lift As We Climb, the first-ever Teen Council Summit. It was a huge success!
Teen Councils are groups of teens at local Planned Parenthood affiliates that serve as peer to peer educators to advance sexual health education and reproductive justice for teens in their communities. At the Summit, the teen health educators from around the country met each other, talked about their work, built their leadership skills through peer-led trainings, and mapped out the future of their groundbreaking work. The Teen Council program is stronger than ever and continues to grow!
What Activism in Action Looks Like
As part of the Teen Council Summit, youth educators lobbied on Capitol Hill to make sure Members of Congress knew about the important work they are doing. They kicked off the day with a rally near the Capitol and later went office-to-office to meet with Congressional staff to advocate for policies that ensure that youth in their communities have access to accurate, comprehensive sex education, and that they have the information they need to make healthy decisions, plan for their futures, and achieve their dreams.
One Teen Council Member bought a rainbow flag en route to the rally to “show appreciation and acceptance for the huge and diverse LGBTQIA* crowd” who were attending the Teen Council Summit with them.
To wrap up the Summit, poet, activist, and former peer educator Sonya Renee delivered an inspiring message, including lessons for youth who want to change the world through peer education. It was a truly inspiring moment for all the teens in attendance.
What Teen Council Members Had to Say
“The Teen Council Summit made me feel more confident speaking out when I hear or see something that I feel isn't right. The experience taught me that my voice is important so I want to use it to make change (even if it's little change).” – Bianca P. (Salt Lake City, UT)
“My experience at the Summit convinced me that my voice matters, and that if I stand up for what I believe in and speak loudly enough, people will listen. I gained the confidence that I needed to pursue my goals. Drawing inspiration from all of the world-changers (present and future) that I met in D.C., I returned home feeling energized and ready to get back to work learning, educating, and fighting for reproductive and social justice on the local, state, and national level.” – Maya A. (Rochester, MN)
“My fears of lobbying completely disappeared after the Teen Council Summit, and now I hope that lobbying, or just talking to politicians and policy makers in general, is a part of my future career. Not only did the Summit and speakers teach me how I can relate my Teen Council experience to any sort of work I do, but it also made me more confident in my ability to talk to lawmakers about community issues.” – Maddie H. (Indianapolis, IN)
“The Teen Council Summit provided me with inclusive sex ed for the first time. I was inspired by that diversity and inclusivity, and plan on taking it into my future by starting a Planned Parenthood Generation Action campus group when I go to college, and to teach inclusivity to LGBTQIA* youth in my professional career in political psychology.”
– Kyler R. (Juneau, AK)
“The Teen Council Summit made me feel like I have a voice that people ACTUALLY listen to. I didn't think that my opinions mattered or I had the power to change the entire world, but now I not only think I can change the world, but I KNOW I can change the world and I totally will.”
– Candelynne G. (Salt Lake City, UT)
Young people are the future of the reproductive rights and justice movements. From the Teen Council for high school students to PP Generation Action groups on campus, Planned Parenthood is committed to supporting youth as they continue to create positive social change in their communities.
Jordan Kush was the Social Media Lead for the Teen Council Summit and currently works as the Social Media Manager for Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota.