Message from Youth Advisory Board

Sequoia High School's Youth Advisory BoardMike Johansen, Star Vista

The Sequoia Teen Resource Center's Youth Advisory Board strives to be a vehicle for youth and adults to partner together to improve the health and wellness of the Sequoia community. Each year YAB conducts an annual Needs Assessment Survey (NAS) which the students write and administer to the Sequoia campus. YAB students feel that their survey is uniquely able to identify the concerns of Sequoia students because it is presented to their peers as an opportunity for students to partner with YAB and speak up about the issues that they feel matter most. Once the surveys are collected, more youth and adult collaboration takes place to analyze the data and present it to the Sequoia Administration and various other groups that work in the community. One such group is RWC 2020's RWC/NFO Prevention Partnership, which not only utilizes YAB's data but is a major supporter of the program. The Partnership supports YAB's work financially, and through participating in the Partnership YAB members receive trainings and opportunities to collaborate with other member organizations such as the Youth Leadership Institute, the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center, and Stanford's John Gardner Center.
Through the survey, YAB students ask their peers about many topics related to health and wellness. One question that is always included asks students to pick what issues should be the top priority of the Teen Resource Center and YAB. For the past two years Suicide and Depression was the most requested issue, so in response YAB decided to bring in some local community organizations to help. YAB and the Crisis Center spoke with the PE classes and the Sequoia staff about how to recognize signs of suicide and depression and how they could help a student in need. YAB also brought in panels of speakers with lived experience from Stamp Out Stigma and Narcotics Anonymous with the goal of reducing the stigma associated with mental illness in hopes that those who were in need would be more able to reach out for help. Three years ago, the most requested issue was Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) prevention education. In 2012, YAB conducted a Social Access Survey to learn more about how youth get AOD in our community and through their work with the RWC/NFO Prevention Partnership and the RWC Police, YAB helped to get TRACE adopted in RWC in 2012. In 2013, YAB added a question to their survey asking where Sequoia students get their alcohol and found that the most common ways weren't at stores through shoulder tapping or fake ID's but 1) from an adult at a friends home, 2) from their own home without their parents knowledge, and 3) from an adult at their own home. YAB decided that parents in our community needed to hear this message, so they developed a presentation to share their findings and inform parents about TRACE.
YAB will be conducting its 2015 Needs Assessment Survey this February, and will continue to share the findings with invested members of our community. For more information regarding the Youth Advisory Board or the Needs Assessment Survey contact Mike Johansen of StarVista's Youth Development Initiative at mjohansen@seq.org, 650.369.1411, x60067.