Internship Reflection

Andrea Mackey at i4Y: Developing youth advocacy and research programming for ending child marriage and youth homelessness

We created a program that’s intentional about challenging underrepresentation in public health and arming youth with advocacy tools and resources.
February 19, 2021
Andrea Mackey

This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to work on a range of projects to empower youth and promote health equity with Innovations for Youth (i4Y). i4Y is a cross-disciplinary, innovation hub at UC Berkeley addressing issues of youth equity through collaborative research, training, and community engagement to strengthen research relevance and impact for youth of today and tomorrow. 

Utilizing Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR), high schoolers and I developed the Youth Advocacy Program (YAP) a year-long, web-based program for i4Y’s Child Marriage Youth Empowerment (CMYE) group. YAP will inspire diverse high school participants to promote the causes they are passionate about. Through a series of three workshops designed by a youth advisory committee, high schoolers will learn the skills and receive the tools needed to champion their beliefs. This year, we focused on advocating against child marriage. I helped i4Y create a program that’s intentional about challenging underrepresentation in public health and arming them with advocacy tools and resources. The overall framework of the Youth Advocacy Program approaches leadership and learning as a purposeful, collaborative, values-based process built on reflection and past experiences to foster positive social change. 

Additionally, I was able to empower youth to use research as a tool for change and transformation working with the Ending Youth Homelessness Catalyst Group. Through a web-based, crowdsourced survey in San Francisco and Alameda Counties, home to 15% of youth experiencing homelessness (YEH) in California, we aim to check in with the needs of YEH during the COVID-19 pandemic. This summer, we were able to complete IRB approval and develop the framework for the survey implementation, and training of the youth study team. As I continue to work with Dr. Coco Auerswald, I look forward to working with our youth team to implement this survey and use the data to advocate for resources, programs and policies. 

Thank you to the Wallace Center and Innovations for Youth for giving me the opportunity to have such a meaningful internship. My internship couldn’t have been done without the support of Dr. Marieka Schotland, Jessica Ross, Dr. Deardorff, Dr. Murphy-Graham, Dr. Prata and of course, Ava, Jojo, and Naina. I am excited to continue building on the survey implementation with Dr. Coco Auerswald and thank Anoop Bains and Allen Ratliff for all their support this summer! Also, thank you to my family, friends, partner, kasamas, and community who inspire me to collaborate and create change.  

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