Midwest Adolescent Health Project

Project Overview

Adolescent patients access primary care services at lower rates than any other age group despite increased risk for morbidity and mortality due to high risk behaviors such as substance use, sexual activity, interpersonal violence, and suicide. While these high risk behaviors are common among adolescents, less than 20% receive recommended screening and counseling on them from their health care providers. To address this problem, we are embarking on a new initiative to build the capacity for adolescent-centered health care in rural and underserved communities in HHS Region V.

Midwest Adolescent Health Project

Objectives of the project

Build the capacity of pediatric practices in rural and underserved communities in HHS Region V (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) to provide youth-friendly health care for adolescents through engagement in the evidence-based Adolescent-Centered Environment Assessment Process (ACE-AP)

Equip each HHS Region V state with the ability to continue to build the capacity of youth-serving primary care centers beyond the duration of the project by training coaches to facilitate the ACE-AP

By training individuals at the state level to deliver the ACE-AP, each state will continue to disseminate the low-cost model throughout high-need communities and increase the number of youth who have access to needed services.


Alyssa Wadlow, MSW

Alyssa Wadlow attended the University of Michigan where she earned her Masters in Social Work with a concentration in communities and social systems. She is currently the Program Manager for the Michigan AHEC Southeast Regional Center. Most of Alyssa’s career has been spent working in community-based non-profits in Detroit. Her work has been focused in the area of positive youth development and program evaluation. Alyssa is passionate about empowering young people to use their voices to bring about change and create healthy communities.


Becky McFarland, MA

Becky McFarland has worked at the DuPage County Health Department in Illinois since February 2013. Since 2016, McFarland’s work has centered around improving health outcomes for the adolescent population. She has worked on issues related to the prevention of unintended teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, as well as increasing well-visit rates among the county’s Medicaid population. She believes that every young person has a right to accurate information and access to the care they need to live their best life. Ms. McFarland earned a Master of Arts degree in communication from the University of Illinois-Springfield. Her hobbies include: being outside, playing with her kids, and listening to political, social science, and murder mystery podcasts.


Kelly Vrablic, MPH

Kelly Vrablic works for the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) with the Office of Women’s Health & Family Services, in the Division of Maternal and Child Health. In her role at IDPH, she serves as the content expert for the state’s Maternal and Child Health (MCH) priorities for adolescent and child health.  Kelly works to bring key stakeholders together across the state working through collaboration to ensure the health of Illinois’ women and children. Kelly is passionate about Maternal and Child Health and works on multiple initiatives that have included efforts on breastfeeding, child health, infant mortality reduction and health equity. Kelly has a master’s degree in Public Health from Benedictine University, and a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is currently working on a second master’s degree in Human Clinical Nutrition.


Shannon Rauh, MEd., CSE

Shannon Rauh has over 25 years of domestic and international experience as a public health educator, trainer/facilitator in evidence-based interventions, program director, and direct service provider. Currently, she is a consultant for the Title X Family Planning National Training Center and works directly with Title X grantees and sub-recipients on ensuring that adolescent healthcare needs are met in Title X funded sites. Her expertise includes project management from development and implementation to monitoring and evaluation of programs addressing disparities among vulnerable populations; cultivating excellent partnerships with numerous domestic and international stakeholders on public health initiatives; and conducting needs assessments, work plans, and content development to support an expanding program. Shannon has a Master’s in Health Education and is a Certified Sexuality Educator by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists. In addition, she serves on the Board of Directors for the Healthy Teen Network and is an adjunct faculty member at The University of Texas at Austin and Bastyr University.


Taryn Gal, MPH, CPH, CHES

Taryn Gal is the Executive Director at the Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health (MOASH), where she has held various roles since 2011. During her time at MOASH, she has worked alongside youth to break down the siloed approach to adolescent sexual health issues, in order to effectively address all that intersects with sexual and reproductive health among young people in Michigan. Taryn has worked in the field of sexual health for over 17 years and, prior to her work at MOASH, worked as a sexuality educator, HIV test counselor, and research assistant in HIV-prevention curriculum development. Currently, she is a board member for GLSEN Southeast Michigan Chapter and is the co-chair of the Ann Arbor Public Schools Sexual Health Education Advisory Committee.


Paula Cody, MD, MPH
Medical Director of Adolescent Medicine
University of WI School of Medicine and Public Health

Julie Neitzel Carr
State Adolescent Health Coordinator
MN Department of Health

Elizabeth (Liz) Dawson
Ohio AAP

Kathy Sanabria
Associate Executive Director/Lead Staff on Adolescent Health
Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics

Cindy Robbins
IN-AAP State Liasion
IN AAP and Indiana University

Laura Rooney
Title V, Health Improvement Planner
Ohio Department of Health

Sharon Swindell, MD, MPH
President, Michigan Chapter


This project has been made possible with the support of The Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program (HTPCP). HTPCP supports community-based partnerships and collaborations aimed at improving the health status of disadvantaged children, youth, and families nationwide by increasing their access to health services.