There are almost 42 million adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 in the United States today—about 13 percent of the population. Adolescence is a time of profound change; it is a period in which young people explore their identities, form new relationships, and lay the groundwork for their future health and wellbeing. These changes can be exciting but can also present great challenges, as adolescents can find themselves overlooked in terms of resources and opportunities, their needs not met by policymakers and decision-makers.
At the 2nd annual Bloomberg American Health Summit—held November 12-13, 2019, in Baltimore, Maryland—we heard directly from Baltimore youth leaders, as part of a panel discussion titled “The Voice of Youth in Baltimore.” The discussion was led by Dr. J. Nadine Gracia of Trust for America’s Health, and included Joni Holifield, founder and president of the youth leadership and entrepreneurship program Heartsmiles, and James Gaither and Jemira Queen, members of Heartsmiles and the Youth Advisory Board of the Johns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health. A special performance by Baltimore musician Young Elder (whose photo is featured on our homepage) follows the panel.