The North Dakota Department of Health is seeking youth, ages 15 to 21, to serve on its first Youth Advisory Board.

The purpose of the 20-member board is to provide a way for youth to make a difference in their communities by planning, implementing and advising on meaningful projects and topics to improve the health of the state’s youth.

It will provide young people an opportunity to learn about, and put into action, communitywide planning and enhance their leadership skills and responsibility, according to a department news release.

“It’s hard to tell if COVID is going to make an individual decide to apply, but it’s been such a huge deal and has impacted all populations,” said Krissie Guerard, health equity director for the department. “Health is on everyone’s mind and that may push a person to apply who otherwise would not.”

Board members will be asked to commit to at least two years of service to cultivate personal and professional growth. A statement of commitment will be required from a parent or guardian for youth ages 15 to 17.

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Health department officials are seeking to recruit members from throughout the state, with a goal of forming a diverse group of young people with a variety of backgrounds including ethnicity, race, age, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, ability and places of origin.

“Youth health issues differ from adults, and, in order to understand their needs, the NDDoH would like to hear directly from youth. Their feedback will advise policy and drive programmatic change,” Guerard said. “The health and well-being of youth have a major impact on the overall health of society. Today’s adolescents and young adults are tomorrow’s workforce, parents and leaders.”

The board, which begins quarterly meetings in March, will meet via videoconferencing.

Applications are due Jan. 29.

For more information on the board, including the application, go to www.health.nd.gov/youth-advisory-board or call Guerard at (701) 328-4526.