“I am here to help and to learn how to become a leader to create a happier place for children and adolescents with chronic illness,” young ‘ChIPper’ patient advocate.
A special leadership day for young people who access care for chronic illness in the NSW health system has inspired a group of teens to make a difference in healthcare for other children.
The training led by the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network Chronic Illness Peer Support Program (ChIPS) and Youth Advisory Council (YAC) aims to equip young people with the skills and confidence to offer peer support to patients and the ability to advocate for the needs of children and their families who live with chronic illness.
“The purpose of the day was to offer leadership development and a personal growth experience for our ‘ChIPpers’ and YAC members,” said Melissa Miller, ChIPS Coordinator at Randwick.
“Developing skills in self-confidence, effective communication, active listening, group facilitation, chairing meetings and the dreaded public speaking, are all really important tools for our young advocates.”
“The young people who attended displayed bravery, respect, empathy and passion during the training – all commendable leadership qualities,” Melissa said.
“ChIPS is an effective program because it is run by young people, for young people. Our leaders are at the core of this," said Rebecca Moore, ChIPS Coordinator at The Children's Hospital at Westmead.
The feedback from the action-packed day, held last month, was overwhelmingly positive from all who attended. Leaving behind important messages for educators.
“Your voice matters,” wrote one attendee.
“You never know the effect you may have on someone,” wrote another.
The newly trained ChIPS leaders will now be a part of a larger group of leaders who attend regular reference meetings to assist in planning events such as the ChIPS annual camp, whilst having greater responsibility at social outings and being role models for their peers.
If you would like to know more about the Chronic Illness Peer Support Program (ChIPS) and Youth Advisory Council (YAC) please email Melissa Miller, ChIPS Coordinator (SCH) or Rebecca Moore, ChIPS Coordinator (CHW) or visit the Network website here or trapeze.org.au.
The development of the Youth Health Leadership program is a collaborative effort between ChIPS Coordinators at Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, NSW Health Leadership Team and the Network’s Patient and Family Engagement Team, and based around the NSW Health Leadership Framework.