Teen Health Mississippi is dedicated to cultivating young advocates. At our core, we engage in collaborative conversations with youth, tuning into their aspirations and challenges. Together, we co-create impactful action plans, fostering opportunities for change alongside legislators, community leaders, and within the dynamic energy of our youth. Step by step, our vibrant young advocates bring these strategies to life, crafting a positive impact on the world today and for the limitless possibilities of the future.


Youth advocates bring fresh perspectives, authentic voices, and unique insights that significantly contribute to shaping programs and initiatives. Youth voice and choice are vital to THMS and communities overall. THMS believes in the power of youth to bring their own brand of advocacy no matter where they are. As such, we believe in youth power to:

  • Advocate for legislation/write legislation: The Mississippi Youth Council works closely with legislators to address sex education within the state of MS. They’ve written three bills to make sex education medically accurate, age-appropriate, and high quality. (See sex education law for more information.)
  • Be board members: At THMS, we firmly believe in the power of youth to create organizational change. THMS has two positions for youth board members who are actively engaged in all matters and have voting privileges and full rights as any other member.
  • School and community-based advocacy focused on issues most impacting their communities: THMS offers teens technical assistance and financial support to advocate for issues impacting their communities. To date, teens have organized health fairs, mental health programs, built LGBTQ+ inclusive spaces within their faith organizations, helped change sex education policies from abstinence only to abstinence plus, enacted mental health policies within schools, and initiated many other projects.
  • Peer-to-peer advocacy trainings and informationals: Each year, THMS and youth advocates work together to train new advocates on addressing lawmakers at the capitol (Capitol Day) and building advocacy skills and networks (Mobilizing Youth Summit).
  • On-the-ground and social media campaigns: THMS has several youth-led programs where youth address mental and sexual health issues with peers, provide peer-to-peer sex education, and engage in table talks with HBCU college students to reduce HIV.
  • Create programs and projects to address youth needs: THMS has five youth-led programs created in partnership with youth to build knowledge and power and advocate for healthier communities.
  • Speak to power about important topics: THMS trains youth to speak to policymakers, community leaders, funders, and influencers on important topics related to health and wellness.


In 2014, Mississippi Youth Council (MYCouncil) was created to engage youth in the advocacy of evidence-based, medically accurate, and age-appropriate sex education. MYCouncil members take a grassroots approach to sex education and other related sexual and reproductive health issues by mobilizing communities to speak out and get involved in an issue that is extremely important to young people today. Today, sex education is still paramount to MYCouncil’s mission. In addition, MYCouncil members work on additional topics that impact their world. These topics are based on youth interests and the challenges that are most pressing in their communities.


Each year, THMS’s Mississippi Youth Council partners with youth from across the state to host a Capitol Day to meet with legislators to talk about sex education laws and other topics of critical importance. Youth learn key strategies for engaging with legislators, share their thoughts and concerns about their community, and build a network of peer advocates interested in changing the world.


Each year, THMS hosts an annual youth-led advocacy summit designed to give youth requisite skills and strategies to better their communities. Last year, youth leaders from Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and Louisiana joined us in our two-day advocacy retreat. Youth were also given a chance to network with advocacy organizations, meet with youth advocates making a difference across the state, and apply for a special Seed Grant Funding Opportunity to support future funding initiatives.


Join us in building a healthier, more equitable tomorrow, led by the unstoppable spirit of youth empowerment! Contact Josh McCawley at josh@teenhealthms.org, Mariaha Amos at Mariaha@teenhealthms.org, or contact@teenhealthms.org for more information.