Posts Tagged ‘smart choices’



Get ready! It’s Pennsylvania Teen Health Week!


Help us celebrate!Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Laura Offutt, MD, whose digital health resource, Real Talk with Dr. Offutt, developed Teen Health Week in collaboration with the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Department of Health with support from the Pennsylvania Medical Society. Laura is a volunteer internal medicine physician, youth mentor and advocate who uses social media and her blog-based website to engage adolescents with teen-friendly, accurate health information.

Get ready! This week is Pennsylvania Teen Health Week! As proclaimed by Governor Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania Teen Health Week to focuses on the overall health of teenagers from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and everywhere in between. Pennsylvania is the first and only state to have such a statewide proclamation and observance – but soon Teen Health Week will be a national celebration!

It’s easy to be a part of this special week.  Involvement can be as simple as hanging a flyer announcing the week in your school, church or community center, or wearing lime green, the official color of Teen Health Week.  We even have a toolkit which is full of easy ideas for activities, sample social media posts, and a variety of resources which are organized around the broad themes covered in the week.

Each day has a specific broad health focus:

Monday: Healthy Diet and Exercise

Tuesday: Violence Prevention

WednesdayMental Health

Thursday: Sexual Development and Health

Friday: Substance Use and Abuse

Why is Teen Health Week important? Well, did you know that in Pennsylvania more than a third of our young feel depressed or sad most days?  Or that many teens think that driving after smoking marijuana is safer than after drinking? Or that 1 in 3 high school students have been in an abusive relationship? Or that fewer than one-tenth of our teens broke a sweat for one short hour in the past week?  And that fifteen- to nineteen-year-olds account for nearly half of the cases of chlamydia and gonorrhea in Pennsylvania?

As you can see, there are plenty of good reasons to have a week focused on teen health here in Pennsylvania!

Don’t worry – it’s not too late to take part in this fun and special week!  Here are a few ideas of how you can be a part of it:

Wear lime green. It’s the official Teen Health Week color.

Get artsy. Use post-it notes and set up a New Year’s Resolution wall that week – where teens can put anonymous health resolutions for 2017! You know, like “eat a fruit every day.”  Or, “make sure to get enough sleep.”

Hashtag for health. Share or post educational announcements or social media posts focused on each day’s health theme with friends or students. (Find these in the toolkit, or on SafeTeens’ social media channels.)

Help us celebrate! Attend the kick-off at the State Capitol Building in Harrisburg on January 9th, or the Friday the 13th celebration at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.

Plus, there are a lot more easy and fun ideas already created for you in our toolkit!



One, Two, Three, VOTE!


Voting is easy – as long as you have your electoral ducks in a row.  As a service to our clients and community, MFHS created a step-by-step guide that centralizes all the forms, tools and resources needed to cast an informed ballot this November.

If you’ll be 18 years of age on or before November 6, 2012, you are eligible to vote – as long as you take a few minutes prior to the election to fill out the required forms and gather the required documents. But don’t wait too long: Pennsylvania’s voting laws simply do not allow for procrastination. You need to start the process now and, at the very least, you must complete Step One by October 9.

Your vote matters.  Following the step-by-step guide below will ensure that it counts, too.

Step One: Register to Vote

In order to vote, your first must register – and register at least 30 days before the election in which you wish to vote. That means if you want to vote in the General Election on November 6, 2012, you must be registered on or before October 9, 2012. Voter registration allows the government to prevent voter fraud by ensuring that everyone who votes is legally eligible to do so, votes in the correct location and votes only once. You do not need to register for every election, but you do have to register (or re-register) if:

  • You have never voted before
  • You have moved and changed your permanent address since the last time you voted
  • You want to change your party affiliation (eg. Democratic, Republican)

In order to register in Pennsylvania, you must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States at least one month before the next election
  • Be a resident of Pennsylvania and your election district at least 30 days before the next election
  • Be at least 18 years of age on the day of the next election

You can register to vote in person or by mail through the Department of State by clicking here.  If you choose to register by mail, remember you must print, fill out, sign and send the Voter Registration Form. If you are unable to print a form, call 1-800-552-VOTE to have a one sent to you.

The Voter Registration Form will ask you to choose a party affiliation (Democratic, Republican). Choosing a party affiliation allows you to vote in that party’s Primary Election. Pennsylvania’s Primary Elections are held in April.

If you are not sure if you are registered to vote, you can check online, on phone or in person through the Pennsylvania Department of State by clicking here.

If you have recently moved, recently changed your name, or have multiple addresses, the Department of State’s lists of frequently asked questions (FAQs) can be accessed here. Look for the drop down menu in the red box that reads “I AM.”

Step Two: Get a Valid Photo ID

You must bring a photo ID to vote in the November election. Click here for a list of the acceptable forms of ID.

If you do not have a Pennsylvania Photo ID, you can obtain one for free at Driver’s License Centers through the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles. To find a Driver’s License Center near you, click here.   Note that you must have a Social Security card and an additional form of ID (like a birth certificate) to obtain a Pennsylvania Photo ID. More information on obtaining a free photo ID for voting can be found here.

Voters who do not have verification documents necessary to get a Pennsylvania Photo ID will be able to obtain a new Department of State voter identification card for free at any PennDOT Driver License Center.  The Department of State Photo ID card is valid for voting purposes only and is intended ONLY for those individuals who cannot produce proper documentation for other types of photo identification.  Voters who want the new Department of State Voter ID must provide their name, address, Social Security number, proof of residency and previous name and/or address if changed in the past 12 months.

Step Three: Find Your Polling Place

You can vote only at your designated polling place. The League of Women Voter’s has an easy-to-use tool to find your polling place. You find it here.

Step Four: Vote

Save the date! Election Day is November 6, 2012. Your vote matters!

Absentee Ballots: If you are not able to get to your polling place on November 6, you can apply for an absentee ballot by October 30.  Completed absentee ballots are due in county election offices no later than November 2.  Click here to learn more voting by absentee ballot.

Don’t know who to vote for? Non-partisan websites like Project Vote Smart and MTV’s Power of 12 allow you to explore the 2012 presidential candidates’ political beliefs and voting records. With Project Vote Smart’s VoteEasy, you can see what candidates best reflect your own political beliefs by answering a few short questions.



Alcohol Awareness: Learn the Truth Before You Drink


As a teenager, you are surrounded with a lot of pressures from your peers, one of the biggest being the pressure to fit in with the group. Sometimes fitting in involves doing things that may not be for you, one of them being the consumption of alcohol.

Underage drinking can not only have short-term consequences, it also can affect the way your body and mind operate in the future. When you are a teenager, your body and mind are still developing. Alcohol can mess with your body’s development, causing some serious health issues down the line and may also increase your risk for your brain to have an addiction to the substance in the future.

Although staying away from underage drinking is encouraged, we understand that it has a large presence in the teenage social scene. So what do you do when it seems like you are presented with no other options? Here are some tips on how you can stay away from alcohol and still keep the fun in your weekends with friends.

-Surround yourself with positive friends: When you are young, we understand that it is very easy to “fall into the wrong crowd.” It’s important to be aware of your friend’s habits, making sure that they are a positive influence on the choices you make. Surrounding yourself with people who make good choices will lead to you making better choices as well.

-Get involved in non-alcoholic events: You don’t need alcohol to have fun! Go to a movie with friends, get involved in a community event or ask your parents if you can throw a get-together with a few friends and make fun and tasty non-alcoholic drinks instead.

-Be honest with your parents: Talking to your parents about a weekend party may be the last thing you want to do, but being honest with them will help build the necessary trust for you to stay safe and make better decisions. You may be too embarrassed to talk to your friends about your concerns with drinking; use your parents as an outlet to voice your fears and answer any questions you may have.

-Educate yourself: The best way to learn about the dangers of alcohol is to learn as much as possible on your own. When you are educated about the consequences, you can make better decisions about your own health.

-Plan ahead and learn to say “NO:” No matter how much you try to avoid it, there may come a time where you are offered a drink while out with friends. It’s important to know that your real friends won’t mind if you deny their offer. Make a plan of someone that you can call if you feel uncomfortable and want to leave the party. Don’t let others make this decision for you; you have the right to say no!