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08 November 2021

In October, the members of the European Allergy and Asthma Youth Parliament attended the second part of EFA’s tailored capacity building to develop their skills in advocating for the rights of young allergy and asthma patients to policymakers.

The training built upon the learnings of the first capacity building session held in June 2021. While the first session provided participants with an in-depth insight into the EU institutions and how they operate, the second session focused on building practical skills in advocacy and public speaking. Participants learnt how to communicate and prepare for meeting with European policymakers by using their patient voice to ask for concrete demands.

We were delighted to welcome Marleen Sorensen from the European Patients Forum (EPF) Youth Group as a keynote speaker. Sorensen spoke about her experience as a patient living with allergy and asthma, as well as what motivated her to become a patient advocate based on her experience as a young person dealing with healthcare and treatment. She also shed light onto the work of the EPF Youth Group, such as developing a code of ethics for young patient advocates to follow to ensure that their work is effective and why it is important for young patients to be empowered to speak.

The participants followed a presentation which detailed how to engage with policymakers and working to influencing them. With this knowledge in mind, participants then took part in a role-playing session where they took turns acting as patient advocates and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). As patient advocates, they were able to put into practice how to present their needs and demands to policymakers, by connecting their personal experiences with political interests and to speak on behalf of young patients across Europe. When acting as MEPs, they were able to assume the role of questioning advocates to understand how to apply their own needs as young patients to a broader European perspective. Following this practice, participants can in the future anticipate speaking with policymakers as young patients and be able to prepare in advance to present compelling and convincing cases.

The participants found the session a highly positive experience, building on the learnings of their previous session and their own knowledge. They left the session feeling more confident in their ability to advocate for young patients and influence policy that impacts them.

The Youth Parliament will continue to use these skills in their advocacy work, by taking part in policy consultations centred around healthcare and youth rights. If you are interested in joining the Youth Parliament to advocate for your needs as a young patient, find out more here.