They conceive new, innovative music carts, design teen lounges and visit the state Legislature to advocate on behalf of other kids in Minnesota.
They’re the Youth Advisory Council and for the 10th year running, this group of patients and patient siblings have dedicated their time to making Children’s a better place.
“Children’s is very fortunate to have one of the first, and I think one of the best, Youth Advisory Council’s in the country. Our YAC members take their job very seriously, and work hard to make the hospital experience better for all children,” said Alan L. Goldbloom, MD, CEO of Children’s. “I think the ideas and suggestions that have come from our YAC have made us a better children’s hospital, and I appreciate all of their work.”
The mission of YAC is three-fold: to help Children’s staff, leaders, doctors and parents understand what is important during hospital stays, clinic visits and emergency care; discuss and give feedback on issues that are important to kids and teens having to do with their health care; and develop a group that has a voice and active participation in thinking about health care services for pediatric and young adult patients.
“They really want to bring Children’s from good to great,” said Christi Dady, a child life specialist and one of the group facilitators.
There are currently 17 members on the council, and they meet on the second Saturday of each month during the school year. There are approximately 20 councils like this one at pediatric hospitals throughout the country, said Sheila Palm, who oversees child life and YAC at Children’s.
“Being in YAC helps members learn about health care delivery and services and gain a new perspective on taking responsibility for their health,” Palm said. “We encourage them to let their voice be heard and advocate for themselves and others.”
Members are encouraged to articulate their thoughts and be active, thoughtful and respectful listener to others ideas.
“Even though most of these kids have some sort of chronic condition, they are very active in their community. A lot of them are student athletes. They all have busy lives, but they still give to Children’s,” Palm said. “I think for the most part they’re altruistic, and they want to help other children. They really are looking at it as service to others.”