Author: Yolanda Evans, MD, MPH

My teen just came out, now what

young loveI have the privilege of working with teens around many aspects of their lives including sexuality and reproductive health. While my professional focus is on the health and well-being of teens, adolescents live with and are accompanied by parents. My day to day encounters often include a significant amount of conversation with parents. Now most parents are a bit uncomfortable discussing their teens reproductive health. Add in sexuality that differs from the majority, and the conversation becomes even more challenging. These terms may change, but all of them mean their teen is disclosing they are a sexual minority. Read full post »

Preventing Gun Violence: Don’t Ignore the Signs

teeninjailThis week marks the one year anniversary of the tragic Marysville Pilchuck High School shooting. As I reflect on the events of the previous year, gun violence comes up in multiple settings: The school shooting in my own state, the shooting of people gathering at a church in the South, and other incidents that occurred around the nation with less media coverage, but with equally devastating consequences for families and friends. As a provider in Snohomish County, I also think about many of my patients who were affected by this tragedy. My patients and their parents have described the feelings of helplessness, frustration, anger, and fear that something like this will happen again. This reflection leaves me with a sense of urgency that we as a community need to do more. We must answer questions to understand what brings a youth to the breaking point, how do we know if someone is having homicidal and/or suicidal thoughts and, most importantly, how can we prevent future tragedies? Read full post »

The Impact of Implicit Bias

Think about the encounters you have with strangers every day. When you stop by the grocery store and notice people in the check out line, what comes to mind? Does the young parent with multiple very small children bring up any emotions or thoughts? What do you think of the food items being purchased by the person who is underweight or overweight? How do you react when a group of teens with darkly dyed hair, piercings, and tattoos is standing in the doorway? Now consider a group of clean-cut teens? Everyone has biases: those subconscious perceptions of people around us. They shape our actions and judgements. But, biases are often incorrect. They are generalizations about a group based on our cultural norms or expectations, but may have no actual basis in reality. For example, the parent with multiple young children in the check out line may be a nanny not a single parent. The clean-cut teens in the doorway may be waiting for a peer who is stealing alcohol while the pierced and tattooed teens are trying to advocate for ending childhood hunger. Read full post »

Powdered Caffeine Dangers

Coffee cup illustrationIt’s the Fall. With this season comes the return of cable knit sweaters, closed toed shoes, pumpkin spice, and early mornings as school starts again. Oh those early mornings! Getting up for school is hard and teens may be tempted to use some outside help to not only wake up in the mornings, but to stay up late to finish homework projects. One substance that is making headlines (again) is caffeine. It’s in our coffee, tea, chocolate milk. Adults use this substance quite a lot (just look at all the coffee carts, cafes, & break rooms that are bustling by 8am!) and companies have found a new way to supply consumers with their daily fix of the substance. Unfortunately, the new product can be dangerous. Read full post »

Music and brain power

African American teen plays an acoustic guitar.

African American teen plays an acoustic guitar.

I was a musician from junior high through college. My athletic abilities left much to be desired, but as a 4th grader, an astute music teacher assigned me to the cello. This instrument became the fuel that drove me to push past my shyness, embrace being on stage, and forge friendships that I still have to this day.  Learning to read music was a similar experience to learning a second language: frustrating at times, challenging, but so rewarding when I was able to put it into practice and result in something that was easily understandable to another human being. Read full post »

Keeping up with Social Media

Thirteen year old boy text messaging to a friendI think it’s time to address social media again. The summer is in full swing, teens are out of school either working, volunteering, traveling, or just hanging out. Being away from school usually means there is less opportunity to see friends in person. This is the time when my teen patients teach me a variety of new applications for smartphones and social media outlets that they use to keep in touch with each other.

The tide of what is popular amongst teens is always changing. A few years ago Facebook was the popular way to connect; when I was in college, MySpace was the site everyone used. I can guarantee that next year, teens will be using a completely different list of sites to communicate with each other. Their quest: to speak to each other without adults snooping in. Read full post »

Girls on the Run – promoting self esteem

joggingOver the summer, we’re continuing to highlight positive opportunities available to teens. I had the privilege of interviewing a representative from Girls on the Run, an amazing program that promotes physical activity and so much more for teen girls. Though this interview is with a representative from outside of Washington State, she gives an excellent overview of the program. Information about the Puget Sound chapter can be found here and at the very end of the post.

  1. What is Girls on the Run? What is it’s mission?

Girls on the Run is a physical activity-based positive youth development program (PA-PYD) designed to develop and enhance girls’ social, psychological and physical competencies to successfully navigate life experience. The mission of Girls on the Run St. Louis is to empower girls for a lifetime of healthy living. Our program for girls in the 3rd through 8th grades inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.

The 20-lesson Girls on the Run curriculum combines training for a 5k (3.1 miles) running event with lessons that inspire girls to become independent thinkers, enhance their problem solving skills and make healthy decisions. All of this is accomplished through an active collaboration with girls and their parents, schools, volunteers, staff, and the community. Read full post »

Research opportunity: Access to Health Care for Transgender Youth

HiResA Research Study About Access to Health Care for Transgender Youth

Version date: June 11, 2015

Researchers at Seattle Children’s want to learn about barriers faced by transgender youth and their families when they seek health care.

Are you a parent or guardian of a young person who is transgender, gender variant, or gender questioning? You could participate in our online survey about your family’s experience with health care and receive a $10 gift card. Survey responses are confidential and will not affect your child’s health care. There are no direct benefits to you if you take part in the study. Research is always voluntary!

To participate in the survey, please contact Julia Crouch at 206-884-1433 or julia.crouch@seattlechildrens.org.

The principal researcher for this study is Dr. David Breland at Seattle Children’s, Adolescent Medicine.

How much sleep do teens need?

insomniaSleep. Such an elusive thing to have enough of! As parents, we’re juggling work, family, and personal obligations. Sleep often comes second to the other tasks that need to be accomplished during the day. Teens in our country are also struggling to be productive and find the balance between sleep and obligations. Unfortunately, US teens are not getting enough sleep and this can have consequences.

There are many reasons why sleep may be elusive for adolescents. They may have extracurricular committments such as work, homework, sports, clubs, youth groups or all of the above. Or they may have poor sleep hygiene and spend their time on social networking sites, texting with friends, watching movies, or listening to music. If they aren’t sleeping enough at night, they may feel so exhausted during the day that they take long naps, which further disrupts sleep patterns. Middle and high school start times are quite early, so it’s not out of the norm to hear my patients describe waking up at 5am to get ready to catch a bus or ride to school. Nor is it abnormal to hear them going to bed after midnight on school days. Read full post »

Implicit bias

Students Sitting on StepsMedia coverage of numerous events involving police shootings of innocent African Americans has spurred the nation to consider the biases we hold. Every person holds assumptions. Simply living in a set culture, individuals take on behaviors and associations that are prevelant in the society. Sometimes these associations are helpful and sometimes they are not.

Examples that call out our implicit bias are showing up all over social media. I recently saw a social media post that described showing 3 cartoon pictures of 10 year old boys to a group of school kids. One cartoon pictured an overweight boy, one was thin with glasses, and the last was able bodied and dressed in trendy clothing. The school children labeled the boys. The overweight one they called ‘lazy,’ the thin boy was the ‘nerd’ or ‘smart’ and the final boy was ‘popular.’ The next day, there was a post that took loved ones and dressed them like they were homeless and placed them on the street. Their own family members walked right by and didn’t acknowledge their existence. These were spouses, siblings, best friends who were ignored because their look was changed and they were placed in a different context. Read full post »