YouthCare is excited to form a new Youth Action Board (YAB) that officially kicks off this month!

Designed to improve YouthCare services by amplifying youth voice, the YAB’s goal is to allow YouthCare clients to gather and discuss how different services and programs within the organization can be better aligned with the needs of clients.  

In partnership with The Mockingbird Society, the YAB will provide a forum for young people to share their personal experiences and opinions and ensure that their voices of direct experience are elevated in the troubleshooting and evolution of YouthCare services. Meeting on a biweekly schedule, clients participating in the YAB will also be paid a stipend for their time as they work to improve YouthCare programs. 

And what better way to usher in the new YAB than with a trip to the State Capital for Youth Advocacy Day? At the beginning of the month, YouthCare clients got a chance to practice raising their voices by attending Youth Advocacy Day in Olympia. Linzy Burton, YouthCare’s Youth Action Board and Community Manager, and Brad Blackburn, YouthCare’s Community Engagement and In-Kind Manager made their way with several YouthCare clients to the State Capital to advocate for change in front of government officials. 

Brad Blackburn with Mockingbird Society staff at Youth Advocacy Day
Brad (far right) with Mockingbird Society staff at Youth Advocacy Day

The day included an initial time of gathering to prep the agenda and items being advocated for, including the Extended Foster Care Program and Financial Capabilities Bill, then heading to the Washington State Capitol Building to kick off advocacy. Youth had the chance to speak in front of senators, representatives, and government officials. YouthCare clients shared personal stories about experiencing homelessness and how the above agenda items would give hope to them and other young people in crisis. 

“Speaking to elected officials can be intimidating for any age demographic; we are so proud of our youth for embracing this challenge and making their needs known. It was beautiful to witness the anxiousness dissipate throughout the day as they got more practice using their voices. Experiences like Youth Advocacy Day help youth build self-confidence and social skills for engaging with community.”

Brad Blackburn, YouthCare’s Community Engagement & In-Kind Manager

To wrap up the day, a rally was held on the steps of the Capitol Building where Youth Advocacy Day participants were able to gather and continue advocating for young people in Washington. 

“My highlight was watching [clients] feel empowered. Watching them start out quiet and slowly raise their voice…  they stopped looking at their sheet and came up to look the person in the eye. From the first [politician] to the second one, you could tell they had more confidence and that they had more to say.”

Linzy Burton, YouthCare’s Youth Action Board and Community Manager (pictured right)

Linzy Burton at Youth Advocacy Day's rally

The timing of Youth Advocacy Day couldn’t have been more perfect as a lead into the beginning of YouthCare’s new YAB. Youth voice is a critical component for lasting change, and YouthCare is so thankful that our clients took a leap of faith to stand in front of leaders and advocate for themselves and their peers!  

YouthCare is excited to support our new YAB and foster a safe space for clients to use their voice, and thankful to the Mockingbird Society for their partnership and support. We can’t wait to see the change and growth that comes from the YAB, and we look forward to many more advocacy opportunities in the future!