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Workforce Development Program Engages in Public Health Efforts at the APHA Conference

Dec 7, 2023 |

By Trenaya Reid, Workforce Development Manager  

The Amputee Coalition’s Workforce Development Program had the opportunity to attend the 2023 American Public Health Association (APHA) Conference this November in Atlanta, GA! The APHA Conference is the largest public health conference in the world, with over 13,000 public health professionals and attendees. During the event, Workforce Development Manager Trenaya Reid and two Youth Engagement Program (YEP) participants, Giavanna Schembri and Abigail Ripley, had the opportunity to do a poster presentation in collaboration with Flint Public Health Youth Academy (FPHYA). FPHYA is an organization that has a program designed to engage and introduce urban youth to careers in public health, medicine, and research. The Academy has been a great partner within the YEP Workforce Development Program, engaging this year at the Coalition’s YEP Luncheon in Chicago, IL, and Youth Camp in Orlando, FL.

Having YEP participants participate and present at the APHA conference was an essential component within the YEP Workforce Development Program, in that it is important to introduce youth with limb loss and limb difference to the space of public health. YEP participants learned ‘What is Public Health?’, ‘Why Public Health is Important,’ and ‘Different Career Fields within Public Health’. “I had an amazing experience at the 2023 APHA conference,” Abigail said. “I learned so much about the importance of public health and how I can be more involved.” 

The poster presentation at the APHA Conference was titled Youth Partnerships to Elevate Limb Loss/Limb Difference (LL/LD) Perspectives: Missing Voices in Public Health. The goal of the presentation was to address the issues related to: 1.) the underrepresentation of LL/LD individuals in the public health workforce, 2.) the need to introduce LL/LD youth to the public health field, and 3.) lack of education, equity and exposure to resources and public health conversations around health equity impacting the lives of those with LL/LD. After analyzing the YEP Workforce Development Program’s partnership with Flint Public Health Youth Academy, it was concluded that 1.) Building equitable partnerships begins with establishing trust and a shared vision 2.) Utilizing a peer-to-peer model is ideal for youth, and 3.) Advocacy, education, and training are essential to engage LL/LD difference youth in public health. 

Having Giavanna and Abigail present at the APHA conference was a huge success. This experience has allowed YEP participants to engage in professional development opportunities, including attending public health breakout sessions at the conference and building public speaking skills. These are two critical skillsets when introducing career development opportunities to youth. “While at the conference, I was excited to have the chance to connect with some of the public health experts who were there, as well as the kids from the Flint Public Health Youth Academy,” Giavanna said. “I really enjoyed presenting with the kids from FPHYA and getting to tell people more about the Amputee Coalition and our goal, specifically about YEP. It was an amazing experience, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.” 

The experience has also allowed employers/organizations that were at the APHA Conference to learn more about the Amputee Coalition’s YEP Workforce Development Program, the importance of having youth with limb loss and limb difference engaged in public health opportunities, and the solid professional and career development skills that YEP participants have. This opportunity has led to further conversation on partnerships with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and colleges/universities, such as Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI. Specifically, having the YEP participants present to these organizations on their poster presentation from the APHA conference.  

Learn more about the Amputee Coalition’s YEP Program on the website and the Workforce Development Program for adults and youth (YEP)