The first two cohorts in the YWCA’s pilot initiative, Young Women Choosing Action (Choosing Action), have graduated from the 12-week program that helps them discover tools and techniques to develop leadership skills, expand their physical and emotional responses to trauma, cultivate personal well-being practices, and build their capacity as leaders.
The YWCA of Northwest Ohio is one of four YWCA associations across the country selected as pilot sites for the project aimed at addressing long-term health challenges faced by low-income teens and teens of color.
Choosing Action — funded by the St. Louis-based Centene Foundation for Quality Healthcare and the Centene Corporation, parent company for Buckeye Health Plan here in Ohio – is designed for young women aged 13 – 19. Centene, one of the nation’s largest healthcare organizations, seeks to address negative childhood experiences that have important long-term public health implications. YWCA-USA spent a year developing a curriculum to address the impact of adverse childhood experiences and their impact on increased health risk in adult life, including diabetes, obesity, depression, alcoholism, physical and sexual abuse, and mental illness.
Choosing Action is a research-based leadership program takes into account the high levels of trauma, stress, gender-based violence and structural racism that low-income and young women of color face. The pilot program – which the YWCA of Northwest Ohio inaugurated late in the summer – helps young women practice skills that can lead to new habits of decision-making rooted in active choice that can lead to personal empowerment and greater community engagement.