(Note: Opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of ETR as an agency.)
By Amy Peterson, MSc | June 6, 2016
Project Coordinator, ETR
A few weeks ago I attended a symposium on the Lancet Commission on Adolescent Health and Wellbeing in London. The symposium marked the launch of the third and most comprehensive report the Commission has produced on the state of global adolescent health.
With over 1.8 billion young people aged 10-24 years old in the world, the promotion of healthy adolescents could have huge benefits to social and economic outcomes globally. Yet, historically, adolescents have largely been left out. They’ve lacked representation in global health indicators and a voice in the conversation about their own health and well-being.
The Lancet Commission represents a shift in the way we frame adolescent health. It elevates the importance of social determinants of health and young people's right to participate in the health discourse.
This Commission resonates and aligns with ETR’s work in the area of adolescent health, particularly sexual and reproductive health. In the report, as in ETR’s work, social determinants and neurodevelopment play a significant role in the discussion.
By Donald Powell, MHS | June 6, 2016
Senior Director of Policy & Development, Exponents
When I was first asked to prepare something to commemorate National Caribbean-American HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, I jumped at the opportunity. After all, writing has always been my primary way to educate, process emotions and create.
But as I sat at my computer, I began to feel a little apprehensive. As an African American man with southern origins, I started to second guess my right to attempt this endeavor. Was I the person to speak to this commemoration?
I have worked as an HIV preventionist for more than two decades. In that time, I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside several powerful men and women of Caribbean descent. They have transformed and enhanced my understanding of how the intersection of ethnicity, HIV, gender identity and sexual orientation often plays out in Caribbean communities, and in other Black American communities as well. So I speak today to honor the achievements of this community and what I have learned from them.
By Raymond Blossom | June 2, 2016
Prevention Supervisor, Touchstone Health Services Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program
Note: Raymond Blossom participated in a recent training delivered by ETR Professional Development staff. We asked him to share some of his reflections after the event.
I grew up in the South Bay area of San Diego, California. There is a lot to witness there, a lot to learn and a lot to take in.
It is true there are beautiful beaches and weather that makes you never want to leave. But outside looking in, you may not see the lives lost too often to gang violence, families struggling to make ends meet, and the lack of opportunity for many young men and women.
As a teen, some of my closest friends were becoming parents before high school graduation. I never imagined I would one day have the opportunity to teach prevention and sexual health to teens, and to let young men and women know they do not have to become a statistic.
By Julie Adams | May 25, 2016
Research Assistant, ETR
The 2016 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting was held in Washington, DC last month. It marked the 100th anniversary of education researchers meeting to talk about current issues in education, research and policy. As a first-time attendee, I was inspired to see so many people gather in one place, all dedicated to improving the future of education.
I’ve been reflecting on the information shared by some of the most notable researchers in the field over the course of those five exciting days. Here are three ideas I believe are essential to keep in mind as I continue my career in research.
By Cody Sigel, MPH, CHES | May 19, 2016
Professional Development Consultant, ETR
The history of sex education in the United States is fraught with horror stories, from fear-based tactics to blatant misinformation. Sadly, ineffective sex education is not a thing of the past. A recent CDC report shows that most middle and high schools around the country are not implementing effective approaches to sexuality education. It’s no surprise that statistics about the impact of STDs on young people are discouraging.
What’s more discouraging perhaps is that we have answers and proven effective programs and strategies that we could use to bring about positive change. When it comes to framing our messaging around STD prevention with youth, we should be using research to guide us to results!
Let’s take a look at four educational strategies educators can easily apply. Trust the science and the behavior change theories of public health and we will see a difference!
By Marcia Quackenbush, MS, MFT, MCHES | May 16, 2016
Senior Editor, ETR
My car rolled to a stop at a crosswalk. A young man strode across my path. Even with my tired, end-of-a-long-workday brain, I noticed his confident bearing. He stared ahead, eyes slightly narrowed. His cap was pulled low on his forehead.
And then I did a double take. The young man was actually a client in my psychotherapy practice—a young lesbian I had just seen in a session. She glanced my way, smiled and nodded, and we both moved on.
A post by Emmie Matsuno on the Psychology Benefits Society blog (American Psychological Association) brought this memory, and that client, to mind. It’s titled, “Are You a Boy or Girl? No: Living Outside the Gender Binary.”
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.