“As a young person, I think it is very important to learn as much as I can about healthcare access and health equity. While millions of people now have access to healthcare because of the Affordable Care Act, the fight is not over. We still have a long way to go.”

Throughout my time at Kalamazoo College, I have met numerous classmates with a passion for health equity and social justice. One of those students is Skylar Young, a junior political science and history double major, with a strong interest in creating a world where every person has access to quality healthcare. Upon returning from study abroad in Rome, Italy earlier this year, Skylar furthered her interests in health equity and social activism by joining Organizing for Action (OFA) in her hometown of Chicago, Illinois. According to OFA’s website, “Organizing for Action is a nonprofit organization established to move forward the national agenda Americans voted for on Election Day 2012. OFA will advocate for these policies throughout the country and will mobilize citizens of all parties and diverse backgrounds to speak out for passage and effective implementation of these policies, including gun violence prevention, sensible environmental policies to address climate change and immigration reform among others.” While OFA focuses on a variety of social and political issues, it is currently putting a great deal of time and energy into education around healthcare access.
Skylar volunteered with OFA as a grassroots canvasser for the Affordable Care Act. She went to numerous libraries around Chicago for enrollment events to learn more about the impact of the ACA on her community. She also facilitated small discussions at these events, so people could discuss their views on the new healthcare policy, and ask questions before enrolling for healthcare. Additionally, she canvassed door to door in low-income communities with information on how to access healthcare, the ACA deadlines, and how to contact an enrollment counselor for further assistance with enrolling. While she loved this job because she was able to connect with a variety of new people in her community, she often ran into challenging situations. For example, many people did not know anything about the ACA or how it could impact them, and some people did not have access to a computer to enroll for healthcare. This experience made her realize that although healthcare policy reform is important and impactful, it is only successful when people know about the reform and can access healthcare after the policy is passed.
While a majority of the activism Skylar participated in was in her hometown of Chicago, she brought her knowledge and experiences back to the Kalamazoo College community. She has shared her experiences as a grassroots canvasser with her fellow classmates, and dispelled many myths about the ACA to them. Additionally, she has shared her experiences in her constitutional law class, where they often discuss healthcare reform and the relationship between the law and health care access. Through this class, she has learned just how political healthcare access can be, and is currently studying the “Hobby Lobby Case”, which is a very religiously and politically charged case surrounding healthcare. Ultimately, Skylar hopes to continue the fight for healthcare reform in the United States, and believes that every single person, regardless of documentation status, deserves access to quality healthcare.

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