General Health and Safety

All Articles in the Category ‘General Health and Safety’

Transition after high school Post 3 – College Health Services

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college studentGuest Post by Laura Burkhart, MD

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

In the part of this series, I will go into a little further into the details of visiting a campus and what you need to have ready from a health standpoint. If you and your teen are still finding yourself stuck on where to even start looking to apply, you can refer back to the previous post.

Now that you and your teen have decided on what campuses to visit (great job by the way, that can be the toughest part!), it is time to discuss what is often the most exciting part for your teen…the tour. A campus tour is a great way to become familiar with the institution, not only for the physical elements, but also for the health resources offered. It is important for your teen to have a support system on campus of caring professionals that can offer assistance if needed. Read full post »

Music and brain power

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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 »

Safe Sun Exposure

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beachSave Your Skin: Savvy Sunning

By: Guest Author Hannah Smith RN, BSN, CPN DNP-PNP student

Sunny days in Seattle are a treat! When the rays come out, so do we, looking for a bit of warmth while we can. It is easy for me to justify staying in the sun on my back porch, at Greenlake, or Golden Gardens as long as possible to soak up the rays. I am definitely guilty of being in the sun through the warmest park of the day, because as you know, it may be cloudy tomorrow!

Did you put a sunhat on your child or beach umbrella over them when they were younger? Strong work! Those physical barriers are very effective in preventing skin damage. Skin is delicate and vulnerable to UV rays.

Teens need to protect their skin as it’s the only skin they get for their entire life. Everything you do to reduce UV exposure can help to prevent a type of skin cancer called melanoma from developing later in life. That may seem like a long ways off to a teen, but melanoma is not just a cancer in older people, it can appear as early as your 20s. Melanoma is dangerous, and can spread to other parts of your body.

Besides cancer, excess sun exposure will also prematurely age skin with wrinkles and brown spots. The savvy sunning habits that you and your teen create now can help to save their skin in the future.

I don’t want parents or teens to be scared of the sun because it is a wonderful resource that this earth has. It can help lift your mood, synthesize vitamin D, and synchronize your biorhythms. As with most things, moderation is key. I just want parents and teens to learn how to enjoy the sunshine safely. Here are some tips:

Sunscreen Selection

  • Use a sunscreen that covers both UVA & UVB rays.
  • Use a SPF of at least 45.
  • Apply your sunscreen 30 minutes before going out doors for better absorption.
  • Apply at least 1 oz. of sunscreen.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours. Even if it is waterproof sweating and touching your skin will rub it off.

UV Exposure

  • Use sunscreen year round on exposed skin. Even on cloudy days UV rays come through the clouds. Higher temperatures so not equal higher UV rays.
  • Check your local UV index at http://www2.epa.gov/sunwise/uv-index

Lifestyle

  • Avoid the most intense sun between 10am-4pm by sitting in the shade, using a hat, or wearing a light over-up.
  • Buy some stylish sunglasses and use them!
  • Avoid tanning beds. Even ONE session increases your risk of melanoma by 20%.

Be educated, and go enjoy the sun!

Break Dancing and Seattle Youth

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Break dancing Massive MonkeesWe’d like to highlight positive opportunities for teens so in this post, guest blogger Dr. Alok Patel writes about his experiences with the amazing break dancing crew, Massive Monkees.

Getting a teenager to focus is a daunting, nearly impossible task, for any professional. Smart phones, social media, and hormone-driven behaviors often corner the market for a high-schooler’s attention span. Nonetheless, the resurgence of a throwback dance-style, with a blend of mentorship, is turning heads in South Seattle. Teenagers, all over, are discovering themselves in breakdancing, or ‘breaking’ – the show stealing, acrobatic, immersive art, that can be seen anywhere from 80’s movies, to commercials, to music videos.

The rhythmic movements captivate adolescents and world-renowned bboy crew, the Massive Monkees, alongside Arts Corps, are parlaying the fascination into the nation’s first dance-based youth leadership program, right here in Seattle. Read full post »

Preventing substance use

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UW guide for parents studyPreventing substance use during the middle school years

By Sabrina Oesterle, PhD, Social Development Research Group, School of Social Work, University of Washington

Does your daughter crave your attention, but doesn’t want to be seen with you in public? Is your son always too busy to talk to you, but talks or texts with friends constantly on his cell phone? Does your daughter spend hours in front of the mirror, but is never satisfied with how she looks? Is your child full of energy and happy one day and the next day grumpy and can’t get off the couch?

If any of these scenarios sound familiar – welcome to the middle school years!

The years between about age 11 and 14 are filled with a wonderful mix of emotions and concerns for you and your child. It’s a time of great contrasts when your child is still at times very much a child – full of innocence and seeking your love and attention – but also quickly turning into a teenager needing independence and craving attention and validation from peers. During the middle school years, your child will be exposed to a host of new experiences – many are opportunities for positive growth, but others can be risky. Read full post »

A Mom’s Place in Violence Prevention

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African-American single-parent familyWhen I turned on the news this week and watched emerging coverage of the violence in Baltimore, my heart sank because so many of the people involved appeared to be adolescents.  I thought about everything that led up to this: a system of poverty, undereducation, inequality, and bias that contributed to the anger and actions of these youth.   Coincidentally, I happened to be at a pediatric research conference where I had just learned of a study showing that adolescent boys who reported having a supportive family member (mostly mothers, but also fathers, grandparents, aunts, and uncles) were less likely to be involved in violence than boys without such support.  That’s why I was so interested to see the story of Toya Graham, a mom in Baltimore who was caught on tape disciplining her son after she saw him among rioters.

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Implicit bias

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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 »

Social Media, Shaming, and How To Respond When Teens Make Mistakes

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iStock_000015335905_DoubleRecently, Monica Lewinsky gave a TED talk titled “The Price of Shame” that has become a viral sensation with millions of views.  In the talk, Lewinsky boldly shares her experiences around the exposure of her affair with President Bill Clinton in the 1990s and the fallout of that scandal, which was fueled by the rapid spread of information (and misinformation) on the Internet.  She also points out that when the affair began, she was just 22 years old–an age that experts say is still part of adolescence.  Yet the public shaming for her mistake (which she says she “regrets deeply”) has been carried throughout all parts of her adult life.  Teens and young adults will make mistakes–how can we help them learn from them, rather than be defined by them?

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Whole Nutrition in Schools

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eating strawberryThe American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released a policy statement on food in schools emphasizing a “whole nutrition” approach to food that is consumed in school.  This could include breakfast, lunch, and/or snacks.  The writers point out that there have already been changes in school lunches to make cafeteria food more nutritious, but lunches that students bring to school might not meet healthy standards.  Having healthy, nutritious meals throughout the school day is essential for concentration in class and performance in sports and gym class.  How can parents help teens eat healthy at school?

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Hazing and teens

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safety in numbersLast fall, just as I went on maternity leave, there was an incident involving hazing on the East Coast that received quite a bit of media attention. It involved a group of teens from a local New Jersey high school football team and occurred at the time of homecoming. The teens allegedly held down other teens and touched or groped them in a sexually explicit way. One teen was also kicked. In the news article that covered the incident, the responses from adults in the community varied widely. One mother reported: “No one was hurt, no one died — I don’t understand why they’re being punished.” Her comment made me consider the question: “Is hazing ever okay?” Read full post »