Photographed by Hillary Schave

Amy Olejniczak, Associate Director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health and director of the Alliance’s PATCH program, has been raising teen voices and promoting health advocacy since 2010. PATCH, which trains a select group of teens to lead educational health workshops for healthcare professionals and for fellow peers, now has sites in Madison and Milwaukee.

Olejniczak plans to expand the program to sites around the country, starting in 2018.

The goal, she says is: “Giving [teens] permission to see themselves as change agents and see themselves, not just as self-advocates, but as advocates for the health of their generation.”

In early 2018, PATCH will have sites in Buffalo, New York, and in Clinton County, Indiana. Olejniczak hopes to have six sites by the end of 2018, with more to come later. Olejniczak goes to each new location to train PATCH members, but each site has its own approach to addressing community needs.

“She isn’t afraid to let [the PATCH Program] change and move and grow…It’s been a really cool opportunity to grow us individually but also just to see how we can continue to adapt the program. It’s like a malleable, changeable thing which again is what makes PATCH so cool,” says Madison PATCH member Erica Koepsel.

–Rae Sanders

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