Last Thursday, over 100 faculty, students, and guests gathered at Sutardja Dai Hall for the 2015 UC Berkeley Center for Global Public Health Annual Symposium. This year’s theme, “Making Cents, Making Change,” focused on economic innovations for adolescent health and wellbeing. The symposium featured a keynote address by Fred Ssewamala, Associate Professor of Social Work and Director of the Columbia University International Center for Child Health and Asset Development. Ssewamala shared insights from his work with the innovative SUUBI programs, based on an asset-building model where orphaned youth and their caregivers are assisted in setting up savings accounts and receive matching which helps them to attend high school or start small businesses. This address served as inspiration for the following presentations and panels.
The first panel discussion, focused on Bay Area youth interventions, consisted of leaders from 5 local organizations – East Oakland Youth Development Center, RYSE, Y-PLAN, Yo Puedo, and CalSo. A highlight for the attendees was the presence of two youth ambassadors, Brittany Harper from East Oakland Youth Development Center and Gemikia Henderson from RYSE, who shared their stories and insights into the power of local initiatives. The second panel, moderated by Sandra McCoy of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, focused on the economic interventions being researched and utilized at both the individual and policy levels. Finally, a presentation by Louise Fox, former Lead Economist at the World Bank (Africa Region) gave attendees an overview of some of the challenges youth are facing with regard to employment in Sub-Saharan Africa and possible solutions to aid in addressing the problem. Overall, attendees left the symposium energized and better informed on economic challenges facing youth today. Many mentioned that the event sparked a conversation that they are eager to continue in their departments, work places, and in the public forum.
If you missed it, please visit again soon for video of the proceedings and photos!
(written by: Audrey Whiting, Program Manager, Global Adolescent Health Colloquium of the CGPH)