AstraZeneca Canada’s Young Health Program (YHP Canada) is a national community-investment initiative that aims to improve the health of Canada’s young people.
YHP Canada is part of a larger global, long-term investment, founded in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Plan International. The program aims to improve adolescent health and aid in the primary prevention of the most common non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart and respiratory disease (visit our global site).
Here in Canada, the core of the YHP program is the At My Best® initiative, a school-based public health intervention that helps young people establish the habits that help them grow up healthy. Co-founded by AstraZeneca Canada and Physical and Health Education (PHE) Canada in 2008, the program now reaches more than 120,000 children and youth each year in more than 5,500 schools across the country.
In addition to our partnership with PHE Canada, we have developed relationships with a number of leading Canadian organizations to co-create and deliver community engagement and advocacy activities that help make a difference in the lives of youth. Learn more about our partners.
Why do we focus on young people?
Adolescence – typically defined as being between 10-19 years of age – is a critical phase in an individual’s life cycle. It’s a time when girls and boys are exposed to risk behaviours like tobacco use, alcohol abuse and unhealthy eating, which can impede their healthy transition to adulthood[i]. Furthermore, behaviours adopted during adolescence can have lifelong implications for an individual’s future health and well-being[ii], as scientific research has shown that these risk behaviours can create metabolic and physiological changes that may lead to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart and respiratory disease, later in life[iii] (learn more about the growing health issue of NCDs here).
With adolescents now numbering 1.2 billion worldwide, or one-fifth of the world’s population[iv], the Young Health Program aims to give adolescent health greater prominence in future global-health agendas and here in Canada. We believe this is critical to ensuring the success of broader public-health goals.
Giving Youth a Voice
The YHP approach is centred on the principle that in order to promote adolescent health, both programs and policy need to meaningfully engage the voices and perspectives of adolescents. In keeping with the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, we agree that young people have the right to be heard, express opinions and be involved in decisions that affect them[v]. When adolescents participate, it results in decisions that better respond to their needs and improved program outcomes over the longer term. It’s one reason why we support organizations like the Young Canadians Roundtable on Health.
AstraZeneca is a global, research-based biopharmaceutical company that pushes the boundaries of science to deliver life-changing medicines. AstraZeneca operates in more than 100 countries and our innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. We want to be valued as a source of great medicines and trusted as a company that delivers business success responsibly, and we’re committed to operating with integrity and high ethical standards across all our activities. Part of that commitment includes AstraZeneca’s dedication to the Young Health Program as a long-term, global community investment.