The members of the Youth Advisory Council (YAC) at the Inukai Family Boys & Girls Club are changemakers in their community, and in 2016, NIRH was proud to support them as they work towards their goal of increasing access to teen-friendly reproductive health care.
In the first quarter of 2016, the Hillsboro School Board voted 4-3 to deny a policy that would have allowed the town’s school-based health center to dispense and prescribe contraceptives to students, despite advocacy by the YAC urging them to support the policy. Undeterred, the young people turned to a partnership with Washington County Public Health Department (WCPHD) and the Neighborhood Health Center (NHC), a local federally qualified health center, to create youth-friendly materials and services related to reproductive health and family planning. That summer, the YAC coordinated and hosting a Youth Sexual Health Expo that provided local teens with information on the resources available in their community, including a tour of the NHC facility. More than 50 teens attended the now-annual event.
Following this success, WCPHD and NHC requested supporting from the young people to create a teen-specific education center within the clinic, enabling teens to access comprehensive resources in a confidential and safe space in the community. The YAC teens designed and furnished the room, which they call the Sexual and Protective Health Education, or SAPHE, Room. Since the SAPHE Room opened, it has become a popular and well-utilized community space.
In 2018, the composition of the Hillsboro School Board changed, with two of the “no” votes being replaced in elections by pro-contraception officials, and in February, the new board voted unanimously to allow the local school-based health center to begin offering contraception. Teens in Hillsboro now have two safe spaces where they can access confidential, teen friendly reproductive health care!