Sunday, April 26, 2009

Healthy Teens, a Music Video, YouTube and STDs??

What can healthy teens, a music video, YouTube and STDs have in common? The 12 Days Of April- aka. "GET TESTED!!" Wonderful teens Catherine "Cat" Butler, Kat G., Nate & Connor McLauchlan all agreed that posting a video on YouTube that featured teens singing about STDs might just be an effective way to reach their peers with an important message. Huge thanks to Dona LeBlanc for her beautiful voice and creative playscape, as well as to her son, Matt for his participation in our dress rehearsal and creative costume additions. Kudos to Richard Lampert, our videographer and computer expert, for his time, talents, and humor. Thanks to Coni for her artwork, and to all the teens' parents for having open minds about letting their kids help other teens with an awkward topic!
So why SING about sexually transmitted diseases? Well, why not? Songs creep into your brain and often crop up years later when something triggers a memory. Picture this-in the middle of a frat party in December, the 12 Days of Christmas starts playing, and instead of "Five Golden Rings" the reminder "Most STDs are SILENT- GET TESTED!" pops into a few mildly intoxicated brains! How great would that be?
BOTTOM LINE: We've got to think out of the box to find new methods to teach people the facts about sexually transmitted diseases so they can make educated choices and preserve their health and fertility. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

Turn Off Week!

Okay, how ironic is it to enter a blog on "turn off week"? Because really, I hope you're not reading this- at least not THIS week! April 20-26th has been designated as "turn off week" to remind families that we really need to be conscious of screen time. What counts as screen time? TV, computer games, WII, email, twitter, facebook- you name it! If it involves a screen of any sort, it counts.
Does this mean you shouldn't check your email or do computer-based homework this week? Our reality is that we rely on our computers for important messages from work or school, and many run their calendars this way, so it's not practical to insist on cold turkey. However, let this be a week where you try to minimize your computer time to actually required interaction, and try NOT to use the computer for entertainment. Pull out a board game or jigsaw puzzle. Grab your helmet and hop on your bike or rollerblades. Take your dog for a walk. Mobilize the family and walk to your favorite local dive for Saturday morning breakfast. 
We need to set the example in our homes that we ENJOY interacting with other humans! Too many kids think play dates mean going over to a friend's house to play video games. Believe it or not, if you turn off the electronics, kids are amazingly creative in their play- BUT, you've got to set the rules.  Screens are not inherently evil or bad, but like everything else in life, they require moderation. Use this week as a springboard towards a more active and interactive lifestyle.
BOTTOM LINE:  Let's use this week to reconnect with our families and friends face to face- not through a screen!  For more information on turn off week, go to 

Sunday, April 12, 2009

"Passover" the Easter candy!

Happy Easter! And happy Passover, as well. I hope everyone had a wonderful time with their families during these holidays- even if there were occasional squabbles or tears over who ate the bunny ears or who found more hidden eggs. And now comes the hard part...what do you do with ALL THAT CANDY? Let me suggest that the answer is NOT to spread it out over the next week or two, allowing yourself to grab some chocolate with each pass through the kitchen. Before you know it, the calories will erase any hard work you've done since those New Years resolutions have kicked in. Instead, how about donating them to your local homeless shelter (or wherever you know they might be needed.) I'm not about wasting food, but I also realize that candy kept in the house ends up frustrating weight loss goals!
BOTTOM LINE: Enjoy the holidays, treats and all, but give it an end point and jump right back into focusing on MORE fruits and veggies each day!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


It's no April Fool's joke that over 20 million Americans have HPV (the Human Papilloma Virus), one in five Americans over the age of 12 have genital herpes, and over 4 million Americans annually catch gonorrhea and chlamydia, which can lead to chronic pelvic pain, pelvic inflammatory disease, and infertility. We spend over $15 billion annually on medical costs directly from STD, so let's start some health reform HERE! If you see someone wearing a green "cause" ribbon this month, they are promoting the CDC (Center for Disease Control) STD Awareness Month.
This is a wonderful opportunity to open a conversation with your teen about some of the risks of physical intimacy. Even if your family promotes abstinence, you need to be certain that your child understands that herpes, HPV, syphilis and even pubic lice ("crabs") can be transmitted by direct skin to skin contact- no "sex" of any kind required! This is how virgins can still catch STDs- a bizarre concept, I know. Additionally, even though it will likely be an awkward discussion, be sure that your teen understands that oral sex can transmit STDs, and in fact, is a very common way that people catch genital herpes. There does NOT need to be a visible cold sore present on the "giver's" mouth for this to happen!
BOTTOM LINE: Let's take advantage of this STD Awareness month designation to make certain that our friends and families learn the facts about STDs and go get tested if they are at risk! Check out the CDC's website for more info.