We've been around since 2010 but, wow, a lot has changed. Don't take our word for it. Read on below.
And, we know there's still so much more to come! Youth change, and so do we. In fact, we're always busy crafting new, awesome twists and turns.
Stay tuned for our next epic chapters.
In 2010, a $10,000 replication grant funded the pilot and adaptation of a New York City youth leadership and peer sexual and reproductive health education program in Dane County, Wisconsin. The program sought to promote open, honest, and medically accurate sexual and reproductive health conversations between local adolescents and their health care providers via youth-facilitated workshops. As part of this newly formed Wisconsin Adolescent Health Care Communication Program (WAHCCP), youth from the Madison metropolitan area were hired and trained to facilitate two complementary workshops – one for their peers and one for health care professionals.
After the initial year, a statewide endowment fund awarded a 2-year grant to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of WAHCCP in partnership with an academic affiliate. Findings showed significant improvements in provider and teen knowledge, self-efficacy, and intentions to provide and seek quality sexual health care. Health care providers also self-reported behavior changes 3-months after the workshop even with systemic barriers like short appointment times. The evaluation also suggested a need to address additional health topics, such as mental health, in programming.
Informed by youth, academic partners, community stakeholders, professional organizations, and existing research, WAHCCP evolved its programming to better address the underlying factors that impact adolescent patient-provider communication and overall relationships. The revision focused on improving the way youth access, receive, and experience health care especially as they transition from pediatric- to adult-based care. This redesign subsequently became the PATCH Teen Educator (TE) Program.
In the fall of 2014, PATCH received funds from a state health insurance plan to pilot the PATCH Teen Educator Program within a local health department in rural Wisconsin. A year later, an endowment fund granted additional money to hire staff within Greater Milwaukee to pilot a PATCH Teen Educator Program in the metropolitan area. These two pilot projects examined the factors necessary for full-scale program replication including organizational structure, time, cost, feasibility, and adaptations needed based on different populations and settings. The findings led to minor program updates and a well-developed coaching model, ensuring communities implementing the program had the proper foundation and support to be successful. An organization in Buffalo, New York became the first non-Wisconsin replication partner in 2017.
In 2016, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services put out a request for proposals seeking an organization to coordinate a statewide youth leadership council. PATCH received the funds based on its existing success with the PATCH Teen Educator Program.
With support from youth colleagues and adult PATCH staff, a 17-year-old Teen Educator alum created the initial program model and materials as part of a summer internship experience. The program intended to train a cohort of youth between the ages of 10 and 24 years old from across the state to be advocates for themselves and their peers and provide avenues for youth engagement in adolescent health conversations and decisions at the state-level.
The first cohort convened in September of 2016 with a rendition being implemented every year thereafter. PATCH has also piloted different implementation strategies to assess continued effectiveness and possible adaptations, such as a condensed summer program model. This program formally became known as the PATCH Youth Advocacy Fellowship (Fellowship).
In the years leading up to and amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, PATCH laid the groundwork for implementing a strategic youth engagement model in Wisconsin. Wisconsin PATCH formed as a collective in July 2019. At the time, this included three TE programs and one Fellowship. Ongoing capacity building created robust state-level partnerships and fiscal support to launch a more intentional, statewide approach of PATCH programs in July 2021.
PATCH Staff are continuously learning and striving to apply the most advanced information and research to be a revolutionary leader in public health. We value integrity and actively assess program’s alignment with evidence, guidelines, standards, and emerging trends. We recognize, value, and celebrate the fact that youth change and thus, our programming and efforts need to adapt, too. Since inception, PATCH has intentionally shifted to meet the ongoing demands of today’s youth - changing its name and better aligning the mission, goals, structure, and activities to the overall work.
Our original Wisconsin-based program serves as our model while we explore ongoing adaptation, pilot new material and programs, and continually improve upon our current efforts.
We look forward to many more years of continuous growth and positive change.
We are so incredible grateful for those who have been a part of our story so far. Frankly, this work is not possible without the continued unwavering support and passion from our partners and friends.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.