Health Department

CONTACT INFORMATION: Our administration office at 10777 Main Street in Fairfax is open during regular business hours 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday. Clinic services are not offered at this location.
703-246-2411 TTY 711
10777 Main Street
Fairfax, VA 22030
Gloria Addo-Ayensu, M.D., M.P.H.
Director of Health

Public Health Youth Ambassador Program

Fairfax County Health Department’s Public Health Youth Ambassador Program is a FREE program that is open to FCPS high school students. The program aims to increase diversity in the public health field by training participants as certified Community Health Workers. The program provides opportunities for students to become health professionals and enhance participants’ educational and career trajectories, giving them tools to build generational health throughout the community. 

Applications for the 2023-2024 academic school year are now closed.

Public Health Youth Ambassador Program logo

Cultivating the Next Generation of Public Health Workers

This education program trains local students as community health workers. Students who complete the program receive:

  • Laptops, medical supplies and other resources needed to participate in the program
  • Opportunities to develop professional public health connections
  • Experience that enhances their college applications
  • A certificate of completion from Morehouse School of Medicine’s High School Community Health Worker Program
  • A gift certificate

The Public Health Youth Ambassador Program training encompasses school, community and home:

  • School: Classes are held at John. R Lewis High School, Justice High School and Mount Vernon High School. Students have training three days per week during their advisory time (or after school). During the training, students discuss health issues and complete 20 online modules encompassing 91 curriculum hours from Morehouse School of Medicine’s High School Community Health Worker Program.
  • Home: Students conduct mandatory regular “check-ups" with one family member and community members.
  • Field: Students complete the required 70 practicum field hours working with public health entities along with the Fairfax County Health Department. Through their practicum students experience the different roles community health workers fill and experience first-hand what it’s like working in public health. 
  • Community: Students complete a required community health project. They select a health issue that is relevant to them and make an actionable plan on how to address it.

High School and Young Adult Community Health Worker Curriculum

The High School and Young Adult Community Health Worker Curriculum equips students with the knowledge to become the “health ambassadors” of their communities. Students will be trained in Community Health Worker competencies with a focus on health education, mental health education, resource navigation, infection prevention and control and mitigating the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable populations. This curriculum highlights a pathway to a career in healthcare, not only as a community health worker but also health technician, therapist, nurse, physician, or other related roles.

High School and Young Adult Opioid Reduction Training Program 

The High School and Young Adult Opioid Reduction Training Program aims to educate high school and young adults on the dangers of opioid misuse. This program increases the students' understanding of the risks associated with prescription pill misuse while reducing the stigma associated with addiction. This training program also focuses on the importance of mental health and the role it plays in addiction.

Young Adult Mental Health Worker Program 

The Young Adult Mental Health Worker Training Program aligns three key components to address mental health and wellbeing among youth: mental health literacy training, community-based mental health intervention and engagement through mental health screening and reinforcing lessons. Students learn strategies for handling mental health emergencies and work with one another to implement community-based mental health initiatives.

Students are required to complete an Ambassador Community Health Project. Each student will select a health issue that is relevant to them and make an actionable plan on how to address it. Examples from previous cohorts include a student holding regular health fairs at her school and another student working with a local community center to provide healthy snacks to kids after school.

While all students are encouraged to apply, priority will be given to those who are:

Criteria by Cohort Measurement
Economically disadvantaged Qualified for free/reduced lunch, SNAP, Medicaid, TANF
Students with disabilities Covered under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
English language learners
  • School Data
  • Census 

Least likely to participate in post-secondary education

  • First in family to attend college
  • Parents with limited English proficiency

Represent populations with higher:

  • Drop-out rates
  • Chronic absenteeism

Represent populations less likely to:

  • Participate in Advanced Academic Programs
  • Graduate on time
  • Be enrolled in higher education 16 months after graduating

Underrepresented in community health careers (public health, healthcare)

Represent community members most impacted by poor health outcomes
  • Resides in areas with high social vulnerability
  • Premature death rates by race/ethnicity for county
  • HHS - Office of Minority Health Disparity Impact Statement




  • Currently have and maintain a GPA of 2.5 or higher in core classes (GPA does not have to be cumulative)
  • Attend PHYAP activities
  • Are willing to pursue advanced coursework
  • Demonstrate leadership in school or community activities

1 Salsberg E, Richwine C, Westergaard S, et al. Estimation and Comparison of Current and Future Racial/Ethnic Representation in the US Health Care Workforce. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(3):e213789. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.3789



Wheel depicting elements of the Public Health Youth Ambassador Program
Alt Text: Wheel depicting elements of the Public Health Youth Ambassador Program. Elements depicted are: Alumni Network & Public Health Community of Practice, Morehouse School of Medicine’s Community Health Worker Curriculums, Community-Based Health Projects, Family & Community Health Monitoring, Practicum / Field Experience, Mentorship
Program, Networking Opportunities, College & Career Readiness, Public Health Projects & Apprenticeship opportunities, Continued Participant Engagement, and Capacity Building & Program Evaluation.

The Public Health Youth Ambassador Program mentorship component is a virtual and in-person afterschool program designed to attract high school students into pursuing careers in Health Sciences/Public Health. Its goal is to decrease health disparities in under-resourced communities by providing youth in those communities with sustained professional connections, networks, and mentoring relationships as students navigate the rigors of their high school and post-secondary pursuits.

Health Information and Resource Fair

Youth Ambassador program graduates Nayla Bonilla and Yalda Jiminez continue to plan, promote, and deliver public health resources and information to their community. On Saturday, October 28, they coordinated a health information and resource fair at Justice High School, where the two students are now in their senior year.

Residents, families, and student volunteers filled the Justice HS cafeteria, hallways and auxiliary gym. Community health resources showed up, too, providing health screenings, healthy food resources and up-to-date health information from more than a dozen partners. The event was a culmination of almost a year of hard work and planning.

“At first, as we tried to reach out to organizations and ask them to be involved, many people did not take us seriously, said Yalda. “They ghosted us.”

But, the determined duo did not give up. With support and motivation from Youth Ambassador sponsors and staff, they continued with phone calls, emails and outreach to make their vision become a reality. Yalda, who plans to be a nurse one day, expressed that the goal of the event was to bring health resources to people who may not be aware of them and educate the community about health.

Nayla agreed as said, “This was our passion project. To see individuals from our community engage in one-on-one discussions with health professionals and to provide them with a real opportunity to ask questions has been amazing. We are witnessing health literacy in action as we watch families take charge of their own health.” 

Nayla is hoping to host another health event in 2024 and is working on starting plans now. Before she graduates, she also plans to launch a student public health club that will focus on advocacy. “These group discussions can change lives; I’ve seen it.”

Yalda Nayla

Fairfax County Farmers Markets

PHYAP at Farmers MarketOn June 10th, 2023, Fairfax County Health Department concluded its pilot of the Public Health Youth Ambassador program with Edu-Futuro, graduating 84 students from the program. Participants created varied health awareness projects and many were inspired to encourage healthier decisions for their families, communities and for themselves.

While many teens were on the beach or traveling with family and friends this summer, the Public Health Youth Ambassador graduates were making flyers, hosting meetings, learning about federal nutrition aid programs and working with the Fairfax County Farmer’s Market to help decrease food insecurity in their communities.

Food insecurity was a favored health awareness topic that became the focus for many students. “During our class discussions, students mentioned that they did not always make healthy eating decisions and that they did not know where to purchase inexpensive healthy food,” said Andrea Scott, Program Manager. “Throughout the summer, Public Health Youth Ambassador alumni have been volunteering at multiple farmer’s market locations so that they all can work directly in the community and inform them about inexpensive health food options. It is important that our youth understand that they are never too little nor too young, to make a big change in the world. It is also a great feeling knowing that our youth can reach out to staff at the Health Department for help, and then share their knowledge with their communities.”

PHYAP applications for the 2023-2024 academic school year are now closed.

Preparing for the PHYAP Application

As part of the Student Interest application, students will be required to answer the following two essay questions:

  • Why do you want to become a Public Health Youth Ambassador and how will this experience impact your future goals?
  • What do you believe to be the most pressing health issue today? Why?

NOTE: This form must be completed in one sitting; applicants will not be able to save their progress and return later. 

Students are encouraged to prepare their responses to these essay questions before starting the application. 

For further assistance with completing the application, please see the video guides below.

For students:


For parents:

Am I eligible to participate in the Public Health Youth Ambassador Program? 

  • Must be a current 10th-12th grader that attends a Fairfax County Public School 
  • Must currently have and maintain a GPA of 2.5 or higher in core classes (GPA does not have to be cumulative)
  • Demonstrate leadership in school or community activities
  • Students who are economically disadvantaged
  • A student who represents community members most impacted by poor health outcomes

What high schools are participating in the Public Health Youth Ambassador Program?

  • For the 2023-2024 academic school year the Public Health Youth Ambassador program will be conducted at the following schools: Justice High School, John R. Lewis High School and Mount Vernon High School. In the future we plan to have the program in other Fairfax County Public Schools. 

When/Where is the Public Health Youth Ambassador Program offered? 

  • The program is offered at the assigned high school during the school's advisory/major period. In the future we may offer after-school, weekend and virtual classes. 

How long is the program?

  • The mission of the Public Health Youth Ambassador program will have a lifetime impact; however, the overall program lasts of 8-12 weeks depending on the academic calendar. 

Can I participate if I have another commitment such as attending classes at the academy during the advisory period? 

  • This is a rigorous program that involved 100% commitment. All students must attend our scheduled classes. Multiple days of unexcused absences can result in removal from the program. If you have prior commitments, please reach out to your counselor to discuss what options may be available to you.

This project initiative is supported by the Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $3,875,000 with 100% funded by the Office of the Secretary/OASH/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by the Office of the Secretary/OASH/HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit

Contact Us

For questions and program information:

Lady NwadikeLady Nwadike, Community Health Specialist, Fairfax County Health Department

Fairfax Virtual Assistant