Watch the video to hear what drives this group of exceptional youth:
The YAC feels heard and valued. This award demonstrates their growth and achievement, including their bravery to influence change in the health-care system. When the award was announced to the YAC members, past members wanted to celebrate too. They still feel that they are part of building this community – which is true!
The YAC is a diverse group of youth, age 12 and up, who have experience with BC Children’s and are dedicated to promoting excellence in youth-centred care. The YAC has been representing the voice of youth at BC Children’s for over a decade, including during challenging times, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, when they helped make the main vaccination centres across B.C. more child-friendly.
Their input has been key to BC Children’s award-winning programs and projects including a Health Standards Organization accreditation award (2018) and a BC Health Care Award (2015).
A BC Children’s YAC Member shares, “What I have is pretty rare, so we went months not knowing what was going on. It made me really want to help other kids like me so they don't have to go through that experience. Joining the YAC, that’s how I give back."
It is a welcoming, patient, safe, nonjudgmental and nonhierarchical environment where all voices are valued. Until this day, many YAC members do not know what each other’s health diagnoses are. This is a group that is not defined by their diagnosis. They are defined by their advocacy and compassion for each other. They teach adults what a healthy team dynamic should be, which is leading with curiosity, appreciative inquiry and being mindful about how we present ourselves.
The key for the YAC has been building resilience, confidence, and empowerment to act for their own health. They created the term “being the CEO of your health” and they follow that. Their leadership is driven by passion and they create a magnetic feel so that when guests present their work, they tend to stay as long as possible because they feel so inspired by them. Many health-care providers say how meeting the YAC reminds them why they become health-care providers.
Dr. Bonnie Henry mentioned the team’s efforts on consulting with the YAC for the vaccine rollout for youth last May during a press conference. That gave the team a sense of achievement. The YAC members were so proud and it was the highlight of the year. They saw their influence and impact right to the top level of the health care system in B.C.
The pandemic created the opportunity to move forward to online group meetings, which, in return, gave the opportunity to reach out to youth outside of Greater Vancouver, and have the members (including pets!) join in the fun.
This also created the opportunity for the YAC to reach beyond the walls of BC Children’s. The YAC has guests from St. Paul’s Hospital and other community pediatric networks across Canada.
Dare to innovate: The YAC brings innovation and creativity to youth-friendly care and services throughout BC Children’s in ways that adults and health-care providers may not have considered. The YAC helped to design the youth-friendly
Drug Cocktails website on mixing street drugs with prescribed medications, which won a 2018 Health Standards Organization accreditation award for innovation. The YAC was consulted on the BC Children’s redesign project for the Teck Acute Care Centre, assisting with the visual design and artwork, and ensuring that the new spaces were youth friendly.
About the PHSA+ Awards program
The PHSA+ Awards are part of an internal recognition program that celebrates teams and individuals who bring our PHSA values to life in the workplace. They go above and beyond to serve patients and families across B.C. Read about the other PHSA+ award recipients for 2022.