(Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of ETR as an agency.)
By John Henry Ledwith | May 12, 2016
Senior Sales Manager, ETR
It’s springtime! Birds are singing, flowers are blooming, kids are dreaming of summer vacation. And teachers? They’re already planning for next year’s classes and curricula.
Yes, lots of people are looking forward at this moment. But I find I’m actually reflecting back on years past. My wife and I have raised two wonderful sons. Both are about to graduate from college this June. As they finish up their undergraduate education, I’m feeling particularly grateful for the dedication and creativity of the K-12 teachers who reached out, gave them a hand and helped them succeed.
My kids are utterly distinct individuals who learn in wildly different ways. If you ever wanted a real-world example of Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, spend a little time with the Ledwith boys.
By Thao Ha, PhD | May 9, 2016
Assistant Research Professor, Arizona State University
Know any teens who’ve fallen in love lately? Chances are that you do. Most teenagers have been in love or have been involved in a serious romantic relationship by age 18 (Carver, Joyner & Udry). While teens often do not share their romantic experiences with adults, those of us working with adolescents—educators, health providers, researchers, community workers—need the best understanding possible of young people’s romantic relationships. Specific points before, during and after a relationship can create vulnerabilities in adolescents’ lives.
Romantic relationships offer teens wonderful opportunities to pursue some positive developmental tasks. But when things go wrong in a teen’s relationship, there is a potential to trigger a range of problems. These moments may also offer adults an entry into adolescents’ world at a time when our support can be invaluable.
By Yethzell Diaz | May 5, 2016 (first published April 17, 2014)
Education Manager, Digital Nest
Editor's note: In 2014, when Yethzell Diaz was a Research Assistant here at ETR, she wrote this column about technology and social justice. Recently, she accepted a position at Digital Nest. This seemed a perfect moment to re-post one of our favorite contributions to the ETR Blog. Thanks, Yethzell, for all the fine work you did for ETR, and best of luck over at the Nest!
First, let me be clear about something. I am not a techie. At all. The first time I interacted with a computer was probably in seventh grade. Technology stuff was completely foreign to me. My family and friends didn’t know about it. And there wasn’t someone we could turn to for guidance.
I did, however, become a student at University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), majoring in sociology, and at one point I desperately needed to get into a popular class. A hundred students were competing for ten open spots. How was I going to swing it?
By Laura Norvig, MLIS | May 3, 2016
Digital Media Strategies, ETR
During my first 12 years at ETR, I worked on a project that had little to do with sexual and reproductive health. Still, ETR being an organization that does a lot of work in that field, I got used to seeing things around the office such as a box full of wooden condom demonstrators (i.e., penis models), or a giant drawing of an anatomically correct vulva on a designer’s computer screen.
Since ETR started blogging, I’ve really enjoyed reading more about the work my colleagues and our partners do. Michael Everett’s deeply thoughtful piece about Black men who have sex with men and who also happen to be HIV service providers was a window into a new world. Luca Maurer’s post about training educators and service providers on transgender issues opened my eyes to a very real problem: “traditional approaches in education and service provision have rarely incorporated strategies that include or affirm transgender people.”
Sometimes, though, I feel I just don’t know enough about some of the populations ETR’s materials and trainings are designed to help. Hey, I’m a cisgender over-fifty mom. Like a lot of people in this country, I get most of my impressions of transgender people from fictional and reality TV shows like I Am Cait, I Am Jazz, and Transparent.
By Vanessa Johnson, JD, with Jacqueline Peters | April 28, 2016
Director, Ribbon Consulting Group
Jacqueline Peters: This is the fourth in a series of posts about women who have chosen to become trainers and facilitators for the CDC’s WILLOW program. I hope you’ll take a look at Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 as well. These women are inspiring!
Vanessa Johnson: My personal fight with HIV is tied to the loss of family members, friends and co-workers in the 25 years since I was first diagnosed myself. It is in their memory, and because of my own motivation to live the best life I can, that I am involved in the field. My journey has taken me beyond the disease itself. I am exploring and advocating for the essential services we need to keep our communities disease-free and offer protections for people who are still severely stigmatized.
By Christina Murphy, with Jacqueline Peters | April 27, 2016
HIV Navigator, Indigenous Peoples Task Force
Jacqueline Peters: In Part 1 of this blog post, I described some of my experiences as a trainer for the WILLOW training of facilitators in Atlanta. In Part 2, I asked Alesia Miller to share some of her thoughts about the experience and the program. Today we hear from another participant, Tina Murphy.
Christina Murphy: It has always been my passion and calling to be in the service of helping others, in all communities, especially in our communities of color. I care deeply about the ongoing health disparities and social justice issues we all continue to face. My journey started with Tobacco Prevention/Cessation. It continues to build on that foundation, and now I am doing HIV prevention work.
By Tracy Wright, MAED | April 25, 2016
Project Director, ETR
Celebrating is good! It’s not something we need to save for the end of a professional development (PD) session, meeting or project. Starting PD or a meeting off by reflecting upon and celebrating incremental accomplishments is a great way to energize the group and honor the hard work that’s been done.
I’m always looking for something new and different to do during PD sessions, whether live in-person or live virtual. This activity is a modification based upon the activity titled “Good News Graffiti” from the work of Dr. Roger Greenaway and his website on active reviewing.
By Alesia Miller with Jacqueline Peters | April 22, 2016
Willow Leader, Empower U & Trainer, ETR
Jacqueline Peters: In Part 1 of this blog post, I described some of my experiences as a trainer for the WILLOW training of facilitators in Atlanta. I asked one of the participants, Alesia Miller, to share some of her thoughts about the experience and the program.
Alesia Miller: My motivation to be a WILLOW leader has changed from the beginning up to now. As I continue along in this process, I've experineced the changes of how this disease is experienced by the newly diagnosed versus the long term survivors.
By Jacqueline Peters | April 21, 2016
Logistics Specialist & WILLOW Trainer, ETR
I am an excited and fortunate woman. I recently completed the process to become a Certified Trainer for the WILLOW program. I’m meeting some incredible people and being given the opportunity to make a genuine difference in the HIV prevention effort. And after my experiences so far, I know one thing for certain. In WILLOW, people have stories to tell.
By Louise Ann Lyon, PhD | April 19, 2016
Senior Research Associate, ETR
Getting a degree in computer science can be tough. In the name of “rigor,” computer science and related fields have established a structured hierarchy of course prerequisites. These need to be taken in a specific sequence. Often, however, the necessary classes aren’t offered every term. This situation forces college students to plan their schedules carefully or risk being delayed in their education.
I have sat in on many faculty meetings watching heated debates about how much math, science and computer science should be required of college graduates claiming a computer science major. But what are the implications of these decisions for who persists in computer science? And how much of this is truly necessary to prepare students for the current workplace versus simply keeping things the way they have always been?
Or, as I have been asking lately, is this about maintaining “rigor,” or just keeping out the “riff raff”?
By Barb Flis | April 14, 2016
Founder, Parent Action for Healthy Kids
Are parents resisting comprehensive sex education in our schools? They’re certainly taking the rap for this. I still wonder why this is so when the polar opposite is true—parents are far more likely to be allies and advocates.
Too often, when it comes to sex ed, we fear parents rather than embrace them. I’d like to suggest a re-frame. Parents can be powerful people when we need support for effective sex education in schools.
By Susan Telljohann, HSD, CHES | April 11, 2016
Professor Emeritus, Department of Health Education, The University of Toledo
I want to talk to you about power—the power you have to influence students and support them in choosing healthy behaviors. I also want to tell you about one of the most effective tools you can use to put that power to work in the real world of your classrooms and schools.
This is a concrete, research-proven resource that educators can put to work simply, right now, to build greater success with students. And yes, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, that tool is the 15 Characteristics of An Effective Health Education Curriculum.
By Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES | April 7, 2016
Senior Editor, ETR
I’m one of the folks who genuinely looks forward to National Public Health Week (NPHW). I’m proud to call myself a public health nerd. I quote health statistics at dinner parties. I talk to the kids in my neighborhood about the importance of bicycle helmets and safety belts.
I’ve also got a background in mental health. Naturally, I was gratified to see President Obama bring attention to mental health in his Presidential Proclamation on NPHW. “We are striving to promote mental health as an essential component of overall health,” he states, “helping to ensure access to mental health care and services and working to prevent suicide.”
One of the most important things we can do in public health is end the stigma about depression.
By Thomas Davis | April 4, 2016
HRC Youth Ambassador
I haven’t always been an outspoken young man. I learned to be outspoken when I was diagnosed with HIV.
After the counselor told me, “Your test is positive,” I didn’t know what to expect. I wanted examples. I wanted to hear stories from people like me. But there was not a lot of representation from young Black men going through this.
I thought, “Okay. I need to be the example. I am not afraid to share this.” So I started to tell my story among my friends and in my community.
By Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES | April 1, 2016
Senior Editor, ETR
I love working for an organization that’s making a difference in the world of public health. And that’s one of the reasons I’m grateful to the American Public Health Association for promoting National Public Health Week (April 4-10). There’s no better way to reflect on the power and potential of this extraordinary field.
Here are a few of the public health issues that have been on the radar at ETR over the past year. We’re watching some because of impressive reductions we’ve seen in risky behaviors. Others raise intriguing challenges and questions, and we’re eager to see how these issues develop in the future.
By Dontá Morrison | March 30, 2016
In honor of National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day, we need to reflect on the advances youth themselves have made in the fight against HIV. I’m an advocate who works closely with the younger generation. I’ve been privileged to hear some remarkable stories about the steps they’re taking to get the word out.
Young people I know are sharing messages about prevention. They’re talking about the importance of peers knowing their HIV status. They may have limited knowledge about the scientific aspects of the virus. Many lack the financial privilege to run a PR campaign. They still operate from a place of great passion.
It’s my belief that it is because of that passion we should take note of their tactics and incorporate them into our efforts.
By Teagan Drawbridge, MEd, MSW, Shira Cahan-Lipman, MEd, Jennifer Hart, MPH | March 28, 2016
Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts
This end-of-the-training activity gives participants a chance to reflect on what they’ve learned, identify key takeaways and inspire one another by sharing practical action steps they plan to take. Appropriate for in-person trainings and adaptable for live virtual events.
By David Schonfeld, MD, FAAP & Mary Cortes-Benjamin, MS, MS Ed | March 24, 2016
National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement & Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS)
Across the United States, some 800,000-900,000 sworn law enforcement personnel are on active duty. Over 100 die each year in line-of-duty deaths. Each one of those deaths affects family, friends, community and colleagues. In fact, when a police officer is killed, this death touches not just the immediate family, but potentially every family of every police officer throughout that community. The children in these families are students in virtually all of our K-12 schools.
We have written previously about the surprisingly common experience of grief in children’s lives. Over the course of their years in school, 9 in 10 children will experience the death of a family member or close friend. One in 20 will lose a parent.
Children who have lost a family member through a line-of-duty death face some unique challenges. Two organizations, the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement and Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS), recently embarked on a partnership to explore ways to adapt and extend the general guidance about children and grief. We wanted to build on that foundation to speak to the unique processes and issues for child survivors of police officers killed in the line of duty.
By Louise Ann Lyon, PhD | March 22, 2016
Senior Research Associate, ETR
My research here at ETR looks at how women are learning computer science skills. I’ve written previously about some of the challenges facing women studying computer science in colleges or pursuing learning through coding boot camps. I find it exciting and intriguing that women in the workforce are now teaching themselves to write computer code. They’re creating their own female-only groups to help themselves learn.
By Pamela Jumper Thurman, PhD | March 16, 2016
Director, National Center for Community Readiness at Colorado State University
What will you be doing on the spring equinox this year? Like many others in American Native communities, on March 20, I will be honoring National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NNHAAD). This is an important day, both because of its history and because of what it reflects about the fight against HIV in Native communities today.
Indigenous peoples in the United States—American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders—have a long history of being treated as invisible by the general culture. This was true in the early times of this nation, and it was true in the early days of the AIDS epidemic. Sadly, this is continuing, even today. The risks for our people have not been accurately documented, and education for our communities has been inadequate.
By Laura Kann, PhD | March 14, 2016
Chief, School-Based Surveillance Branch, CDC
Editor’s note: Last fall, Laura Kann was presented with the William A. Howe award at the American School Health Association (ASHA) annual meeting—their highest honor. In her acceptance speech, she shares some fascinating inside information on how our current school surveillance systems were developed. She also offers three lessons that can help us all be more successful in our work in school health.
Thank you. This is truly an honor and I am very grateful to ASHA for recognizing me in this way. I know that a lot of important people in our school health world have won this award in the past and I’m honored to stand where they have stood.
There are a couple of things I need to do while I have the podium. The first thing is to thank a whole bunch of people. You can’t win an award like this without a tremendous amount of support, and it is all the people who have supported me who are really the recipients of this award.
I'd also like to share a few of the lessons I’ve learned over the years at CDC.
By Vignetta Charles, PhD | March 10, 2016
Chief Science Officer, ETR
My Facebook feed was filled with wonderful images on International Women’s Day (March 8). I’m a huge fan of Wonder Woman, so I was especially thrilled with the many images of this iconic figure who fights for justice for all. And today, only two days later, we celebrate National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.
I believe Wonder Woman would be proud of the strides we’ve made to reduce the number of new HIV infections in women, especially for African-American women. This should be celebrated. And I do celebrate that. I’m especially proud of some of the amazing HIV prevention efforts that ETR has developed and/or implemented over the past three decades to contribute to this success.
But I also see that Wonder Woman still has a lot of fighting to do.
By John Henry Ledwith | March 9, 2016
Senior Sales Manager, ETR
I am a lucky man. I get to work with school health educators all over this fine country. That means I get to see some of the most inspired, inventive, dedicated work being done anywhere in the world. It’s work that has the potential to make a huge difference in the lives of kids and across communities.
Almost every day, I engage with people looking at how we can build communities that offer support to guide adolescents toward healthy choices. I often think about the force of peer groups as a social determinant of health. I’m fascinated by the power of peers to influence one another’s health, safety and future. Like most of my colleagues, I’m always asking how health educators can most effectively shape positive peer group values and norms.
And, like most of my colleagues, I also have concerns about the ways peer norms and values sometimes have negative effects.
By Elizabeth McDade-Montez, PhD | March 7, 2015
Senior Research Associate, ETR
We come across lots of health-related research findings reported in the news these days. Frankly, some of it is perplexing.
You may have heard the CDC’s recent recommendations that any young woman not on birth control should refrain from consuming alcohol. Perhaps you also saw some of the outraged reactions from social commentators.
Maybe you read about the classic psychology studies that weren’t replicated in recent research. Or the range of rumors flying around about Zika virus. And are you still hearing rumors online or from peers suggesting childhood vaccinations aren’t safe?
How does an informed reader sift through this constant stream of health information? When we are puzzled ourselves, how can health providers and educators support patients and clients trying to make sense of conflicting or suspect reports? What references can we trust when we endeavor to inform ourselves or support and guide others?
By Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES | March 4, 2016
Senior Editor, ETR
March 6-13 is the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS. This is a commemorative week that brings national attention to the HIV epidemic and the “extraordinary role faith communities can and are playing” in HIV prevention, education, service and advocacy.
Reflecting on this year’s National Week of Prayer, I was reminded of a young man named Neal who attended one of the groups I facilitated in the early days of the AIDS epidemic. I was working for an AIDS and mental health program in San Francisco.
Neal had come to the group seeking support. His lover had recently died of AIDS. “My partner came from a very religious family,” Neal told the group.