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Adolescent Health Champions was founded in 2017 to address the critical intersection of gender, adolescent health, and education. We started AHC after seeing that, despite India having the most adolescents globally, there was a dearth of quality programs and interventions for this demographic. Adolescence is when youth solidify their own attitudes and behaviors, and so it is critical we engage with them during this formative period to shape lifelong healthy habits and positive health outcomes. To date, we have reached 12,800+ youth and trained 1,700 Champion peer health educators in 47 schools across India. Our work has been recognized by the Government of India’s Smart Fifty Programme, Harvard University President’s Innovation Challenge, MassChallenge, WeWork Creator Award, D-Prize, Social Innovation + Change Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School, University of California San Francisco, and Harvard School of Public Health’s Women’s Health Initiative and Maternal Health Task Force.
Projects We Support
Girls Health Champions: A Youth-led Movement to Transform Adolescent Health and Gender in India
GHC cultivates a network of female adolescent peer educators (“Champions”) who fight for gender justice and lead the health education process in their schools, communities, and families. We first train Champions at each school in our proprietary curriculum, which covers the critical topics of adolescent health for India’s girls, including puberty, menstrual hygiene, reproductive health, mental health, safety, and gender-based violence. We then work with their schools to provide structured opportunities for these Champions to lead gender and adolescent health sessions with their classmates at multiple touch-points across the academic year.
We believe youth need to play a central, meaningful role in sparking change within their own lives and in their surrounding ecosystems. Our model puts youth at the center of our programming and in a position to act relative to the dearth of existing adolescent health awareness, support, and infrastructure around them. Our approach also builds on existing social dynamics, as adolescents often feel most comfortable turning to one another for support with sensitive health topics, as opposed to their family, teachers, doctors, etc. The end goal is for India’s girls to be healthy and to navigate this pivotal time in life with the proper support they need to thrive during adolescence and beyond.
Our experience has historically been in major metropolitan areas in India (namely Mumbai and New Delhi). Going forward, we made the strategic decision to expand our proven model to rural India. This shift aligns with India’s demographics, as almost 70% of the population is in rural areas. We wanted to pursue opportunities in regions which are less resourced (i.e. as compared to cities such as Mumbai and New Delhi, where we commonly found a dozen NGOs conducting programming at any given school). We identified the state of Jharkhand given its youth comparatively face significant challenges in adolescence, and because the state lags significantly behind in terms of health, education, gender, and development indicators.
Support Dates: March, 2023 – Ongoing