In April 2016, Public Health Advocates partnered with the Youth Leadership Institute (YLI) with the goal of passing an ordinance for healthy default beverages in kid’s meals in Daly City, CA. The ordinance seeks to encourage restaurants to work with parents to serve their children healthfully. If the ordinance is passed, Daly City will join the other California cities of Stockton and Davis in offering low-fat milk or water as the default beverage in kid’s meals.
The Youth Leadership Institute has played a key role in identifying the Daly City Summer Recreation Program as an outlet to foster the voices of youth. Together, we held two workshops in July 2016. The youth ranged in age from thirteen to eighteen years old. The first training centered around educating the youth about the dangers of consuming sugary beverages, the importance of their voice in the effort for change, and information about the ordinance as a policy prescription to protect future generations. During the presentation, we were able to show a spoken word video made by Youth Speaks that provided a youth perspective on the urgency of the type 2 diabetes epidemic. In addition, the youth participated in a physical activity break designed to simulate the power of a movement for change. The training concluded with a video of the Stockton City Council Vote, to illustrate the importance of public comment from youth. At the end of the first training five youth volunteered to give public comment at an upcoming city council meeting.
Working with the momentum of the first training, a second training was set up for the end of July. In the second training, the youth worked in small groups to craft their unique story and perspective on why Daly City should support the ordinance. PHAdvocates and YLI staff served as a mock council and two volunteers from each group practiced their public comment. The stories the youth shared were personal, powerful and illustrative of how diabetes is affecting their life.
The youth voices will be included as a call to action in upcoming meetings with Daly City Council. In the meantime, PHAdvocates and YLI will continue to work with the youth to foster their testimony and leadership as the voice of the movement.