Volunteer Youth Leaders for Health (VYLH)-Philippines
Mission: The primary objective of VYLH-Philippines is to create a network of youth leaders and youth organizations in schools and communities across the Philippines that champion increasing public awareness of existing health programs and the significance of having a healthy lifestyle at an early age.
Focus Areas: Health, Advocacy
- VYLH was formed in response to a global call from March of Dimes – Global Network for Maternal and Infant Health (MOD-GNMIH), with the goal of improving birth outcomes worldwide through advocacy efforts.
- VYLH’s program model is based on four tenets:
- Educate: training gives young leaders information about VYLH and its advocacy efforts
- Empower: youth leaders gain important skills by developing and presenting action plans to carry their own activities forward
- Engage: training promotes camaraderie among volunteer youth leaders, and they take an oath of commitment to the network
- Experience: after completing their training and being accepted into the network, volunteers are expected to complete the activities in their action plans
- VYLH volunteers engage in a multi-media approach to promote the health concerns supported by the network. The network and its youth volunteers organize youth groups to lead awareness campaigns in schools and communities; conduct surveys of young people’s knowledge and perception on folic acid and birth defects; design promotional activities for the youth and the public; and develop and disseminate informational materials that will increase the general public’s knowledge and perception on folic acid, birth defects, newborn screening, preconception health, preterm births, and other related health topics.
- VYLH’s activities focus on the areas of advocacy and health. For advocacy, VYLH partners with the Philippine Society for Orphan Disorders (PSOD) and the Institute of Human Genetics (IHG)-NIH, University of the Philippines Manila, to promote the rights and needs of people with rare diseases. For health, VYLH volunteers collaborate with local and national institutions, non-government organizations, and professional societies related to the health concerns promoted by the network.
- Mentorship and coaching exist in areas where there are senior or experienced volunteers in the same university or community as new members. In areas where the youth leaders are pioneers, they are asked to coordinate directly with their regional or cluster coordinators and secretariat for additional support.
- VYLH promotes volunteerism, so there are no monetary incentives for members. Membership is free, including certifications and health promotion activities. Leadership trainings are also available. Active and well-performing volunteers can also be selected for VYLH’s National Leadership Congress.
- By participating in the program, members gain a better appreciation and knowledge of health issues, develop health-seeking behavior, as well as improve their ability to inform and influence their family and friends. The training program gives youth leaders the chance to meet new people, expand their network, develop their teamwork skills, and boost their self-esteem.
- The participation of youth in these activities also contributes to their workforce readiness, and helps them to identify the issues they want to work on and advocate for in the future.
- There was an unexpectedly overwhelming response from the youth leaders tapped to join the program when it began. After the training, the youth leaders conducted many activities in their communities and universities. Amongst them were the creation of a VYLH springboard module on birth defects awareness, prevention, and care (called “Baby making 101”); “K4Health”, the VYLH-Philippines Community Youth Training Program; and various community events (e.g. advocacy exhibits and “Concert-for-a-Cause”).
Learn More: sites.google.com/site/vylhphilippines/