Special thanks to our guest authors: Preeti Galagali, Nahed Jaber, Wendy Wokoma, Co-leads, Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine IAHW Special Interest Group, and Laura Offutt
Currently, the world is experiencing the largest ever population of adolescents and young people. That’s why the International Association for Adolescent Health (IAAH) and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM) IAHW special interest group are excited to announce International Adolescent Health Week (IAHW) being celebrated March 20th to 26th 2022. This annual event aims to raise global awareness about adolescent health and well-being and highlight the importance of investing in adolescent health to attain the United Nations’ sustainable development goals by 2030.
This year’s theme, “Transitions” is a fitting theme not only for adolescents as they transcend different developmental stages and navigate an ever changing COVID world, but also for IAHW as it has “grown” and found a new home within the IAAH. Started as Pennsylvania Teen Health Week in the US by Dr Laura Offutt in 2016, and further supported by members of SAHM and IAAH, IAHW has become a globally recognized celebration thanks to the herculean efforts of numerous health care professionals, teens and young people, schools, and organizations.
Young people themselves are encouraged to plan for IAHW events and serve as leaders for their peers, families, and communities. In 2021, an inaugural class of 29 Youth Ambassadors represented 17 countries while promoting and contributing to IAHW development. With the success and positive feedback from the 2021 Youth Ambassadors, IAHW 2022 has welcomed a new group of Youth Ambassadors (30 ambassadors from 30 countries, in addition to 8 returning youth serving as Senior Ambassadors) who are actively ensuring that youth voice is incorporated into plans for IAHW.
These young people can’t do it alone though, and we encourage everyone to get involved in IAHW. A few simple ways you can show your support for IAHW are:
- Wear lime green or share lime green giveaways and prizes all week long.
- Share educational social media posts about adolescent health issues using #IAHW2022.
- Write a letter to the editor about a health issue relevant to adolescents in your community.
- Make an appointment with local government to advocate for a policy that benefits youth.
- Host a speaker or assembly in your school during IAHW to learn about a health issue.
- Obtain a resolution or proclamation from local government body commemorating IAHW.
- Encourage local businesses to offer discounts to adolescents during IAHW.
To get involved, for guidance, activity and social media toolkits, please visit the website: www.internationaladolescenthealthweek.org and don’t forget to tag #IAHW2022 on your social media apps. Small actions by many people working together create great change. Let’s turn the social media lime green in celebration of International Adolescent Health Week 2022!
Here is a glimpse of some of the IAHW events that we are working on in our parts of the world:
- Nigeria– A national IAHW Steering committee is formulating a plan of action for activities during the week which includes advocacy visits by various stakeholders and partners to executive and legislative members in various states to prioritize adolescent health and make budgetary provision. Gesamt Healthcare, one of the first health organizations, to spearhead IAHW activities, is conducting their 4th edition of the successful Teen Summit, as well as organizing a training workshop for community pharmacists on the provision of adolescent friendly services. Youth organisations are highly engaged in IAHW plans, and will host group discussions with the youth on adolescent health problems.
- Oman– The Adolescent Medicine Unit at the Royal Hospital in Muscat plans to focus on capacity building and training in adolescent health. The unit will be conducting a series of workshops geared toward the transition to adult care and coping with the challenges of chronic conditions. In addition, they are organizing an open day in collaboration with the government, international and national non- profit organisations on teen issues like bullying, body image, internet misuse, risk taking behaviour, and drug use along with anti-bullying campaign and posters making events in schools. Widespread media coverage in print, social and digital media is planned.
- India– Adolescent Health Academy (AHA) and members of AHA and Indian Academy of Pediatrics have planned a number of nationwide activities in collaboration with the government, international and national non-profit organisations, other healthcare professionals and youth organisations and media personnel. During IAHW, AHA will focus on training of healthcare professionals, teachers and parents and conduct youth led events like slogan and essay writing, poster making, quiz and tweet competitions along with the release of media tool kit focussing on the theme of transitions.
- USA– Health professionals and a group of local teen advisors plan to organise a virtual healthy cooking class and social media campaign about healthy eating. They will conduct an interactive webinar for Philadelphia teens on Youth Vaping, Policy, and Advocacy. Annually, Philadelphia buildings are illuminated lime green in honour of IAHW.