The Big Reveal: Our New Website

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our newly designed website! In our effort to continue to provide you with the latest research, resources, news, and tools to support you in your work, we have completely overhauled www.HealthyTeenNetwork.org.

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In addition to the new look, here are just a few of the other new things you’ll notice…

  • Pages specially designed just for 1) professionals and organizations, 2) parents and caregivers, and 3) youth and young adults.
  • A Youth 360 Resource Center provides resources and links to information to support a holistic approach to health promotion and the integration of social determinants of health in our work to support youth.
  • A better way to search the entire website to find exactly what you need.
  • Integrated social media sharing capabilities, so you can email, tweet, post, or share anything easily.
  • A photo gallery to see and share our networking events and activities.
  • Our blog, Under the Currents, is now integrated into the website, so you can get the latest news right from our home page.
  • News updates on the home page to highlight the latest information, resources, and research.

…and much more!

Along with the new, some things have a new look, but at the heart, they remain the same:

We’re still the only national membership organization with a focus on pregnant and parenting teens, and we remain committed to providing inclusive, positive messaging and resources for all youth, including pregnant and parenting teens. The new website highlights resources for professionals working with young families, as well as resources designed specifically for pregnant and parenting teens.

We continue to promote the range of evidence-based approaches, supporting both evidence-based programs as well as evidence-informed, or innovative programs. The Evidence-Based Resource Center outlines clear and easy-to-follow steps to integrate evidence-based approaches into your programs and services.

And we’re not done yet…

Coming soon, we will unveil our new Members-Only website, the Compass, built on a powerful Learning Management System (LMS). We look forward to creating new ways to network, share resources, and learn from each other in this exclusive Healthy Teen Network Member Community of Practice. Members will be receiving their new login information…and if you’re not a member yet, there’s still time to join and be one of the first to access this new networking portal and reach hundreds of like-minded professionals nationwide.

So please, check out www.HealthyTeenNetwork.org and be sure to come back often to see what’s new. (One note: you may need to hit “refresh” for the new site to load.)

And we’d love to hear your feedback, or if we missed something—please email Gina Desiderio, Director of Marketing and Communications, with any comments or questions.

Gina Desiderio and Kelly Connelly make up the Marketing and Communications Department at Healthy Teen Network.

Youth 360° Photo Contest

Photo by Lena VasiljevaHealthy Teen Network wants to see your take on the idea that how and where we live, learn, and play matters. Share a photo that illustrates this idea and enter for a chance to win one of two great prizes.

We frame this concept as Youth 360°…elements such as family, friends, education and employment opportunities, geographic location, access to health care, recreational options, the media…and so much more…shape our long-term health and well-being

Youth and young adult entrants can submit a photo for a chance to win a Samsung Galaxy 7” Tablet ($179 value). Adult professionals entrants are eligible to win free registration to Healthy Teen Network’s 2015 Conference ($550 value)

To enter, submit your original photo online. Include a written description (100 words or fewer) of the image captured and how it illustrates that where we live, work, and play matters (“Description”), the location where the photo was taken, and the names of any persons in the Photograph (if known).

Official Contest Rules available online here. All entries must be received by October 10, 2014 at 11:59pm EST.

Photo by Lena Vasiljeva,  (c) 2013.

Do Latino Youth Really Want to Get Pregnant?

Genevieve Martínez García

Genevieve Martínez García

While teen births rates are rapidly dropping, the disparity between Latino girls and their White and Black peers is still noticeable. This disparity has led researchers and program administrators alike to ask themselves…how much of Latino teen pregnancies are intended? It is not an unusual question since the number of unintended pregnancies is quite high. It is estimated that in 31 out of 50 states, more than half of pregnancies are unintended, about half of which resulted in actual births (Kost, 2013).

Pregnancy intentions have been measured in multiple ways, assessing pregnancy intentions during conception, level of happiness with pregnancy at birth, or number of years between actual and planned conception. These measurements have resulted in multiple variables: unintended, unwanted, or mistimed pregnancies. However, these measurements are exclusively asked to pregnant or parenting mothers. My curiosity was to find out if girls and boys have a secrete desire to get pregnant, and what are the environmental conditions that may lead a teen to think a pregnancy can be a good thing in their lives.

Through extensive formative research (interviews, focus-groups and key stakeholders’ consultation), I developed a scale to assess pregnancy intentions among Latino youth in one Maryland county. The “Pregnancy Wantedness Scale” (PWS) asked respondents to rate on a 5-point Likert scale their level of agreement on 20 statements that described positive and negative consequences of an immediate pregnancy. High scores on the PWS indicate higher levels of positive attitudes towards and pregnancy. These attitudinal items stated for example “Having a baby right now would make me happy” or “If I have a baby right now my partner would stay with me.” We built a linear regression model to explore the impact socio-demographic and cultural attributes have on the level on pregnancy wantedness. We included indicators of income, family education, household composition, religion, acculturation, age, and contraception use. I also wanted to isolate the results by gender and level of sexual experience, so we split our sample of 794 Latino youth ages 14-19 into four groups. (For a full description of the methods, data tables, strengths, and limitations please see the full text article here)[1].

The sample was slightly more male (57%) with a mean age of 16.9 years. Forty-two percent (42%) were born outside the U.S., and 43% immigrated as children under 13. Many of the youth immigrated from El Salvador, Honduras, or Guatemala (36%) and most (70%) lived with their mother, or with mother and father. Their mothers’ level of education was pretty low. About half (50.6%) had less than high school degree, and only 14.7% had some college degree which is consistent with education levels of Central American immigrants nationwide (Pew Hispanic, 2014). Half of the respondents considered themselves Catholic (50.5%) and reported that religion was very important or important (38.1%) in influencing their decisions about sexuality and contraception.

Most of the sample (60.8%) reported having had vaginal sex at least once in their lifetime. Of these, 43% of the males first had sex by age 13 and 20% of the females at 14 years. Although 68.5% and 52.7% of sexually active male and female respondents respectively used a condom during their last sexual intercourse, 23.8% reported using no method or using withdrawal. Fourteen percent of sexually active males and 25.5% of sexually active females had experienced a pregnancy.

We found that teens in general did not intend to get pregnant. However, their overall score on the PWS scale hovered just below the midpoint. This means that their intentions to NOT get pregnant were not very strong either. Surprisingly this ambivalence is precisely what places them at risk of a pregnancy. Previous studies that examined ambivalence found that female youth who are ambivalent towards becoming pregnant are less likely to use contraception (Stevens-Simon, Sheeder Beach, & Harter, 2005; Kavanaugh & Schwarz, 2009; Frost, Singh, & Finer, 2007), more likely to have an abortion (Rosengard, Phipps, Adler, & Ellen, 2004), and more likely to get pregnant (Zabin, Astone, & Emerson 1993) than female youth with negative or even positive attitudes about pregnancy.

How did the four subsamples compare to each other in terms of their levels of pregnancy wantedness? The sexually experienced sample had a significantly higher level of pregnancy wantedness PWS mean of 50.5 compared to 47.1 of the abstinent sample. Females had significantly lower scores than males (mean= 46.5 versus 48.8 respectively), and abstinent females had lower scores than their sexually active peers (44.1 versus 48.8 respectively). Differences in pregnancy wantedness levels between sexually experienced and abstinent males were not significant.

So what are the factors that may cause this ambivalence? We discovered that for all four groups, living with their mother, and living with their mother AND father was a protective factor that decreased their pregnancy wantedness. However, each group had different factors that impacted their attitudes towards a teen pregnancy. For those with no sexual experience, their mother’s education (having at least completed high school completion or having some college education) decreased their PWS scores. Males were influenced by their religious views. Those who considered religion important in their sexual behavior decisions had higher pregnant wantedness scores, suggesting that traditional religious views encourage familism. One interesting finding is the effect of acculturation in females’ attitudes towards a pregnancy. For abstinent females, greater levels of language acculturation—meaning they spoke more English than Spanish—translated into lower PWS score. For sexually experienced females having been born outside the U.S. decreased their pregnancy wantedness. Another surprising finding is that only hormonal contraception use at last sexual intercourse was found significant in decreasing pregnancy wantedness among sexually active females, but condom use was not significant in any group.

How do social determinants affect pregnancy wantedness?

The table below lists the social determinants found significant in reducing (-) or increasing (+) the PWS score, or pregnancy wantedness among Latino teens.

2014_09_table_pregnancy wantednessWhat’s the take home message?

We found that Latino youth do not want to get pregnant in most cases. However, their ambivalent attitudes towards a pregnancy might place them at risk by not actively seeking effective ways to prevent a pregnancy. As sexual health educators, we need to shift our lens and think beyond the classroom, the contraception, and the curriculum we teach. Where Latino youth live, learn, and play matters! And this is evidenced by the familial, social, and cultural environment that helps shape their views towards a pregnancy and towards actively seeking pregnancy protection. This study suggests that the family environment (who lives with the youth and their level of education), their beliefs (religion), their acculturation level (language use and place of birth), and use of hormonal contraception play an important role in youth’s sexual and reproductive health decisions. Condom use, the desired behavioral outcome of evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs, appears irrelevant to pregnancy desire. It would be interesting to explore more in-depth the acculturation dynamics that impact sexually abstinent girls differently and the religious views males hold. Teen pregnancy prevention efforts must expand the scope of their targeted outcomes, and consider social determinants of health from social, economic and cultural contexts in which Latino youth live, work, and play to promote healthy sexuality for all.

[1] Martínez-García, G. Carter-Pokras, O., Atkinson, N., Portnoy, B. & Lee, S. (2014). Do Latino youth really want to get pregnant?: Assessing pregnancy wantedness. American Journal of Sexuality Education, 9:3, 329-346. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15546128.2014.944735

 

References

Kost, K., Henshaw, S., & Carlin, L. (2010). US teenage pregnancies, births and abortions: National and state trends and trends by race and ethnicity.

Pew Hispanic (2014). 2011 Hispanic Origin Profiles. Retrieved on September 20, 2014 from http://www.pewhispanic.org/.

Stevens-Simon, C., Sheeder, J., Beach, R., & Harter, S. (2005). Adolescent

pregnancy: do expectations affect intentions?. Journal of Adolescent Health,37(3), 243-e15.

Kavanaugh, M. L., & Schwarz, E. B. (2009). Prospective Assessment of Pregnancy Intentions Using a Single‐Versus a Multi‐Item Measure.

Perspectives on sexual and reproductive health, 41(4), 238-243.

Frost, J. J., & Darroch, J. E. (2008). Factors associated with contraceptive choice and inconsistent method use, United States, 2004. Perspectives on sexual and reproductive health, 40(2), 94-104.

Rosengard, C., Phipps, M. G., Adler, N. E., & Ellen, J. M. (2004).

Adolescent pregnancy intentions and pregnancy outcomes: A longitudinal examination.Journal of Adolescent Health, 35(6), 453-461.

Zabin, L. S., Astone, N. M., & Emerson, M. R. (1993). Do adolescents want babies? The relationship between attitudes and behavior. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 3(1), 67-86.

Uncovering the Story of Community Engagement through Learning Walks

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Youth theater group at Indigenous Peoples Task Force

The Native Youth Project (NYP), funded by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was implemented in seven Native American communities, namely, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Indigenous Peoples Task Force, Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, The Boys and Girls Club of the Northern Cheyenne Nation, Wind River Tribal Youth of Northern Arapaho Tribe, First Nations Community HealthSource, and Center for Prevention & Wellness, Salish Kootenai College, to select, adapt, and implement evidence-based programs. Upon its completion in August 2013, it was evident that the NYP was successful and accomplished its objectives. However, the quantitative project results were not suitable for telling the story of the process grantees engaged in to make NYP a reality in their communities.

To uncover the invisible work behind the measurable deliverables, the CDC and project partner, National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI), contracted with Healthy Teen Network to conduct Learning Walks. Learning Walks provide the opportunity to learn about the process of engaging stakeholders, the unique geographical context that shaped the implementation of the project, and the social impact NYP had in the community.

Conducting a Learning Walk is a popular strategy used in the education field: an external observer visits a community to document lessons learned, provide input to guide decision making for future project funding, and gain understanding of the impact that a particular project might have had in a community.

Healthy Teen Network staff, Mila Garrido Fishbein, Valerie Sedivy, and Genevieve Martínez García, recently conducted a series of Learning Walks with some of the NYP grantees. The intent is to shed some light on the less tangible, but still powerful outcomes of the NYP—the community engagement and social impact. Following the site visits, Healthy Teen Network developed reports to highlight the successes and stories learned from the Learning Walks.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Healthy Teen Network can support your agency to conduct qualitative evaluation, such as Learning Walks, contact Mila Garrido Fishbein or complete a service request form today.

Stories Worth Sharing: 2013 Annual Report

Pat Paluzzi, DrPH

Pat Paluzzi, CNM, DrPH

Check out the Healthy Teen Network 2013 Annual Report. Available only online, we highlight several stories of projects from the 2012-2013 fiscal year. You’ll learn more about our efforts to crowdfund to print and disseminate a graphic novel, conduct a community assessment, and develop a motion graphic to link teens to sexual health care services. You’ll hear stories from our members, including two young mothers, as they share their experiences attending the Healthy Teen Network conference, attending trainings, and partnering together to make a difference. As always, we continuously strive to improve our efforts to build your capacity to promote healthy youth development…and so, we invite you to share your stories with us, too. For us, these are stories worth sharing.

Pat Paluzzi, CNM, DrPH, is the President/CEO of Healthy Teen Network

New Opportunities to Guide Opportunity Youth to Career Opportunities!

Bob Reeg

Bob Reeg

You might have missed this news, since it was barely covered in the mainstream press, but the U.S. Congress actually DID do something of importance to young people before taking its summer recess. In late July, it passed and President Obama signed into law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the first revitalization of the public workforce system since 1998–yes, over fifteen years!

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act matters to adolescents and young adults as it positions public workforce system leaders and workforce service providers to better support youth at greatest risk of failure to obtain jobs and enter career pathways. Soon, local workforce authorities receiving WIOA formula grant funds will be required to spend at least 75 percent of those funds on out-of-school youth, compared to just 30 percent under the WIOA predecessor law, the Workforce Investment Act (WIA).

WIOA also changes youth eligibility requirements by establishing separate criteria for out-of-school and in-school youth, including removing income eligibility requirements for most out-of-school youth and raising the eligible age for such youth to 16 through 24. In-school youth age eligibility continues to be ages 14-21.

Also, WIOA places a new priority on work-based learning by providing that at least 20 percent of local youth formula funds be used for work experiences such as summer jobs, pre-apprenticeship training, on-the-job training and internships that have academic and occupational education as a component.

WIOA links youth workforce services to the attainment of secondary school diplomas, entry into postsecondary education and career readiness, and to the attainment of postsecondary credentials aligned with in-demand industry sectors or occupations. Additional allowable activities include financial literacy education and entrepreneurial skills training.

Also, under the new law, youth with disabilities will receive extensive pre-employment transition services so they can successfully obtain competitive integrated employment. And WIOA reauthorizes and enhances two workforce programs of particular importance to marginalized youth– Job Corps and YouthBuild. The new law preserves a feature of the predecessor WIA in that pregnant and parenting youth are specifically identified as a subpopulation of both out-of-school youth and in-school youth.

To learn even more about the youth provisions of WIOA, visit the websites of Healthy Teen Network allies, the Center for Law and Social Policy and the National Youth Employment Coalition.

Enactment of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, as well as the Obama Administration’s recent release of Ready to Work, a report and recommendations for strengthening federal job training programs, ensures that there will be considerable policy implementation activity bubbling at the state and local levels of government in the next months and years. Assuredly, opportunities will arise for organizations and individuals that support youth, including adolescent sexual and reproductive health professionals, to weigh-in as their public workforce systems and funded providers adjust to the new rules of the road.

I have uncovered a few informational resources to get you prepped for local action. First, I draw your attention to What Works in Job Training: A Synthesis of the Evidence, which the Obama Administration released as part of its Ready to Work initiative.  This publication includes a most helpful chapter summarizing the evidence on the effectiveness of job training programs for youth. What has been found to work includes: early exposure to career and higher education information and opportunities; work experiences for youth still in school; occupation- and industry-based training programs, and comprehensive and integrated models that combine education, occupational skills, and support services.

Another resource to check out is Mentoring Youth and Young Parents: A Guidebook for Programs Helping Youth and Young Parents Navigate a Pathway to Self-Sufficiency. This publication was developed to support the Young Parents Demonstration project, a U.S. Department of Labor-funded initiative in the early 2010s. The publication includes learnings from the project grantees.

And then to go back a bit in time to 2001 is Leveraging Youth Employment Systems to Prevent Unintended Pregnancy, which presents the results of a nationwide survey of youth employment programs. That survey showed that most youth employment programs view unintended pregnancy and childbearing as significant barriers for program participants to successful program completion and transition to the labor force. The study also reviews some innovative and promising pregnancy prevention programs that have been set up by youth employment programs, including referral arrangements, educational workshops, and counseling sessions.

So, now armed with this heads-up that the workforce development kettle will certainly be simmering again, and presented with some resources for your follow-up, my questions to adolescent sexual and reproductive health providers are:

  • Do you know which agencies and organizations in your community are the primary providers of workforce services to youth and young adults?
  • Do you have relationships with these organizations?  If so, how are you working together?
  • What adolescent sexual and reproductive health information and services could you bring to youth being served through workforce programs?
  • What will you do to become part of the youth workforce policy implementation and service delivery conversation?

Bob Reeg is the Program Development and Public Policy Consultant at Healthy Teen Network.

Austin on Foot… Bats, BBQ, and Boots

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Shanise Taylor

With its eclectic mix of people, one-of-a-kind restaurants, and year-round gorgeous weather, Austin is the perfect back drop for Healthy Teen Network’s 35th Annual Conference. Having been to Austin previously, I have several tips and recommendations on eating and sightseeing your way through downtown—all within walking distance of the conference site!

Let’s start with the amazing host hotel for this year’s conference, the beautiful Hyatt Regency Austin. Located on the  majestic Lady Bird Lake, it boasts one of the best views in Downtown Austin.  Because Lady Bird Lake has a sprawling 10 mile hike and trail, it’s an always bustling host to many fitness and other recreational activities. Fun Fact: Lady Bird Lake was named in honor of former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson.  At one time she even turned down the Lake being named after her. Posthumously, Austin’s City Council changed the name to honor the late First Lady’s dedication to beautifying and making the lake’s shoreline a place of recreation.

Need a bit more excitement? The Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge is the site of one of the best natural spectacles known in the United States. Affectionately known as the “Bat Bridge,” the Congress Avenue Bridge is home to one of world’s largest Mexican Free-Tailed bat colonies. Emerging at dusk to feed themselves, this convergence of bats blankets the shoreline and crosses Lady Bird Lake every evening. It’s a natural wonder when you see how uniformly and quickly the bats move.  There are two ways to experience this phenomenon: you can either stand on the bridge and watch from above as the bridge slightly shakes while the bats move about, or you can experience it from below the bridge to experience a blacking out of the sky.  Either way, it’s a one-of-a-kind natural wonder.  Normally flights happen around 8:00 to 8:30 pm, but for more specific times, call the Bat Hotline (not to be mistaken for aid from Batman) at (512) 416-5700 ext. 3636.

Now that we’ve gotten a little bit of nature (not to mention, free!) activities out of the way, how about some food and entertainment? No matter what your taste buds desire, you can probably find it on, or just off, Congress Avenue. From BBQ to Tex-Mex, downtown Austin has it covered. There are quite a few establishments that boast good food and a cool ambiance, but I’ll highlight just a few.

Hop Doddy: With their delectable choice of craft burgers and beers, Hop Doddy is a great choice for savory bites. Supportive of the local agriculture, this burger lover’s dream provides you with a taste of Texas and, more specifically, Austin!

Iron Works BBQ: Burgers not your thing and looking for some authentic Texas BBQ? Iron Works BBQ may just be the place for you. Eighteen minutes walking (or five minutes by cab) from the hotel, this restaurant boasts a vast array of delicious barbecued meat. If you want to try your own hand at recreating some of their flavors when you get back home, choose from a vast array of spices, sauces, and rubs available for purchase from the store.

Freeb!rds World Burrito: Want to try some local Tex-Mex? This place will tickle your fancy, as well as fill your belly. Within an eight-minute walk from the hotel, Freeb!rds’ menu is a veritable feast of burritos, custom-built tacos, and nachos. With such unique signature items like the Monster Burrito (need you ask?), Death Sauce (“Stop cryin’ like a baby–this ain’t for the weak!” they warn), and  Queso (lots of melted, cheesy goodness… with a little homemade zip), you’re liable to run and not walk to this funky dining establishment. (For the health conscious looking for lighter offerings, they also have a nice selection of salads.)

By now, you should be happily full and singing the sweet praises of Austin’s wonderful dining selection. Are you up to walking off some of that food and look for trinkets and other keepsakes? Why not stop at Texas National Outfitters (TNO)? Located within walking distance of Hop Doddy, this one-stop shop of local flare has you covered. Be it boot-shaped beer cozies to actual one-of-a-kind cowboy boots, TNO has all your Texas needs. Pricing here ranges from reasonable to pricey.

Still wandering and looking for something to do? 6th Street (Sixth Street) is known to be Austin’s Entertainment Center. Nestled between Congress and Interstate Highway 35, this popular destination has something for everyone, from live comedy to karaoke and live music, Sixth Street is easily Austin’s most eclectically diverse entertainment area.  Also conveniently located along this seven street stretch are numerous bars and lounges for those who like to explore the nightlife.

With Healthy Teen Network’s Conference mornings starting very early, I know by now, you’re craving some sleep. But how about some dessert first before you head back up to your room? Stop by Southwest Bistro. Located on the second level of Hyatt Regency Austin’s beautiful atrium view of the skyline, take in the night, have some  coffee, and be sure to order the Roasted Pineapple Cake.  (And if you’re craving a late night snack, the tortilla soup at SWB is also a must try item!)

Looking for other awesomely fun and interesting things to do? Be sure to visit Austin’s helpful website.  It’s chock-full with information to round out your visit! We’d love to hear your recommendations for other things to eat, see, and do in Austin, so feel free to share your favorites in the comment section below.

Hope to see y’all in Austin this October!

Shanise Taylor is the Executive and Communications Coordinator at Healthy Teen Network.

The Importance of Teen Voices: “Nothing about Us without Us”

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Judith W. Herrman, PhD, RN, ANEF

For some of us, remembering how teens think means only to conjure up our thoughts from a few years ago. For others, it feels like ancient history and requires some time and effort to truly represent the thoughts of a young person. But it is with these thoughts and perspectives that we often shape those policies and programs designed to foster health in today’s teens. Rather than simply guiding our initiatives based on our recollections of youth priorities, or worse yet, using our adult insights to decide what is “best” for today’s youth, we need to seek out authentic teen voices and ensure that teen perspectives guide our efforts.

Although we cannot be assured that all teens speak with one voice, nor can we shape policy based purely on teen insights, we do need to “try our best” and consider the voices and perspectives of youth in all we do. There are various ways to do this—from informally talking with youth on what they consider is in their best interest, to rigorous research that controls variables ensuring valid findings. Each pole of this spectrum has pros and cons as we generate programs and funnel our energies toward those initiatives that are most effective in helping teens.

Key to developing this youth-based framework is the art of listening. We may spend a lot of time talking to teens, and perhaps complaining when they don’t listen to us, rather than actively and intently listening to their thoughts and priorities. By listening to teens we may best hear their perspectives and concerns and, thereby, attend to the realities of current teen life.

Helping teens articulate their thoughts should also be a role for adult advocates. Current knowledge of brain development demonstrates that the maturing prefrontal cortex allows teens to put their thoughts into words. Assisting teens to find the words that accurately describe their thoughts and using other media, such as journaling, art, drama, dance, and creative expression, may help teens find their voices.

Research methods that may help us discover and use teen voices include surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Each of these allows us to “listen” to teens in a systematic way and to interpret their thoughts in accurate ways. Although these methods have their positive attributes, they also have limitations. For instance, teens often tire of long surveys, yielding inaccurate results. Teens may feel intimated during personal interviews or limited in their expression during a focus group based on the dynamics of the group. Creative methods to conduct youth-based research that reveal the candid voices of teens are being developed to allay these concerns. Using journaling via text messages or written word, open-ended sentence completion exercises, videos, photographs, and other expressions of voice through media are now more common ways to access the views of teens.

Just using teen-oriented methods is not always enough. We need to ensure that teens are part of the process such that the youth lens truly depicts the thoughts and perspectives of teens. Youth advisory boards, teen representation in program planning, and teen involvement that truly relies on their perspectives—rather than just allowing them to serve as “token voices”—are integral in developing youth-focused initiatives. The phrase, “Nothing about us without us,” can go a long way to ensure youth-based and youth-oriented programs and policies designed to promote teen health and speak to the realities of teen life in today’s world!

Judith W. Herrman, PhD, RN, ANEF, is a Professor, School of Nursing, University of Delaware and a Healthy Teen Network Board Member

Connect, Create, and Cultivate: Methods for Networking at a Conference

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Rita Lassiter

At our annual conference, we’ve discovered that one thing attendees come hoping to do is make the most of the networking opportunities the event affords. For many people, the word “networking” evokes hesitation and even fear. We often associate the art of networking with a forced effort to meet every person in the room through something like a speed networking exercise, or the aimless collection of business cards. However, networking is a key component to expanding our personal and professional circles and creates unbelievable opportunities.

What does it take to have a successful networking experience at your annual conference or meeting?

Jodi Brockington, founder of Friends of Jodi and NIARA Consulting, a full service marketing and business development company, suggests that a successful networking experience comes with a plan of action. “You MUST have a networking strategy—you cannot just wing it. Networking is an art and vital to your career success, but you must have a vision for doing it right.”

With all this in mind, here are some tips to connect, create, and cultivate new relationships at the Healthy Teen Network conference and other events.

THE MASTER PLAN

Networking Is A Two-Way Street
When you ask “What’s in it for the other party—not just what’s in it for me,” you seek to be a useful resource to others. An effective networking relationship should be mutually beneficial to each party. The goal of networking is to make a connection, so your mission is to be a connector of people, ideas, and information. Everyone has something to give, whether it’s time, talent, or performance. You get value by giving value, so make yourself worth getting to know.

Who You DON’T Know Will Hurt You
It’s perfectly fine to step out of your comfort zone and meet other professionals from other organizations. If you believe in six degrees of separation, then you know that everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world. If you’re looking to expand your network, then you’ll find that the theory holds true—even down to as few as two or three degrees sometimes. You should network laterally, vertically, and horizontally. Never underestimate the power of the grapevine. There is a wealth of information just waiting to be exchanged with people that you don’t know.

Quality Not Quantity
Networking is more than collecting business cards and contact information at a networking event. Brockington suggests that conference attendees “focus on making a few high-quality connections. People who network merely to collect business cards have completely missed the mark. You can’t meet 50 people at a three-day conference and expect to remember their names or instantly have a viable network. It takes time, but you must start and continue at it.” People want to connect on a deeper level than spending five minutes with an individual and then moving on to the next person. Take advantage of  opportunities before and after conference sessions to connect with fellow attendees. Exploring the host city on a venture out of the hotel/conference center or a chat during conference meals are a couple ways to network within the time constraints of busy conference agendas. Early-career professionals want to meet seasoned colleagues who can help them learn the ropes. Experienced professionals desire to tap and amplify their existing network. Everyone turns to events to make connections with like-minded people who will share knowledge, opportunities, and ideas that will help them do their job faster, better, and easier.

THE APPROACH

Be Likeable
Outside of being armed with business cards and a charged cellular phone/tablet, approachability and likability is key. First impressions are lasting impressions, so be certain to make eye contact, focus on remembering the other person’s name, and use it in the conversation.

Be Interesting
Be interested in what the other person is saying, but don’t be afraid to shake up the conversation. Who’s to say that the topic of conversation has to stay within the confines of work? Discover what that person’s interests are outside of the office (e.g. philanthropic work, hobbies, etc.). Why not test the six degrees of separation theory to see if you have acquaintances in common based on personal or professional backgrounds (e.g. hometown, current residence, school, fraternal organizations, etc.)?

THE FOLLOW UP

Managing Your Connections
Having a strong network requires relationship building. Stay plugged in to your network after your conference/meeting concludes with a follow up email or a handwritten note, a gesture that is becoming a long lost art. The general rule of thumb is that any follow-up correspondence should take place no later than 48 hours after meeting someone, but never longer than a week. In addition to an email or handwritten note, the use of social media is another popular way to build relationships with colleagues (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).

Remember that networking isn’t about being the most extroverted, or just passing out a stack of business cards, promoting yourself, or making a sales pitch. There is commonality that can be found in exchanging information and experiences. Take the time to connect, create, and cultivate opportunities for you, the other party, and your individual networks as well.

We hope to see you—and network with you—soon at the Healthy Teen Network conference!

How do you make the most of conferences and other events?

What networking tips would you share with a colleague?

Rita Lassiter is the Meeting and Event Planner at Healthy Teen Network.

Evaluation on the Cheap

Genevieve and Valerie

Genevieve Martínez-García & Valerie Sedivy

Conducting, managing, and reporting your evaluation efforts has become easier and more affordable thanks to many online tools available at low or no cost. Here is a list of useful online resources to help you manage your research resources, collect and analyze your data, and create beautiful diagrams to share your results with the world. This is not an exhaustive list;there are many more online tools like the ones listed below.

Need to chart your project and ideas?
LucidChart.com is a free, web-based design software that helps you create any type of diagram you need. There’s no need to struggle with text boxes and arrows getting out of control in your Word document. You can select from hundreds of icons and textbox styles, draw different types of arrows that align automatically, and change the color or font of any text box. It’s collaborative, so your peers can access your diagram and make modifications as well. You can export your chart in various formats to insert it into your document. Just create a free account and get charting! I’ve used LucidChart to create research study designs and flowcharts. You can also use it to create logic models, design a project diagram for proposals, and to visualize your programmatic efforts.

Need to conduct a literature review in minutes?
GoogleScholar, a member of the extensive Google family of products, helps you search for journal articles published in journals, books, and reports from all disciplines. Just type a key word and GoogleScholar does the rest. It also provides links to journal articles available free. Use multiple filters to focus your search and create libraries of favorite articles. It even helps you format your references by providing the citation for the article in three different formats. It also provides the Bibtex data needed to import the reference in any reference manager. You can also stay on top of the field by creating publication alerts delivered to your email.

Getting lost in research articles?
Qiqqa.com is one (of many) web based resource managers, similar to the famous EndNote or RefManager. You no longer have to read the title of hundreds of PDF articles saved on your computer to try to figure which one was the one that dealt with runaway youth. Qiqqa automatically organizes all of your PDFs in their cloud so you can access them anytime and anywhere. Just import the PDF into a free web account and the “sniffer” will search and enter the metadata for you (e.g., title, author, journal, etc.).  Then search by key words and find your article in seconds. It also allows you to highlight, make notes and then retrieve them; create in-text citations while you write your proposal; have an offline account for your tablet or phone; and create multiple libraries, although you need an upgraded account to get these features. There are others out there that do a good job with similar tasks as well, such as Mendeley and Zotero.

Need a cheap and fast way to collect data?
SurveyMonkey.com is well known online survey platform that allows you to collect survey data. But why stop at surveys? Many evaluators are using SurveyMonkey, or similar platforms, such as FluidSurveys.com, to collect fidelity monitoring data. Go mobile and take it with you on the road to enter data and visualize it immediately. You can administer their surveys through social media, gather and analyze qualitative data, and you can download it as a CSV or straight into SPSS for further analysis.

Drowning in interview data?
Dedoose.com is a web-based qualitative data analysis software that allows you to analyze all those focus group and interview data you are still trying to code by hand. Dedoose is available for a very low monthly fee, but you only pay during the month you use it. If you don’t need it, just stop paying. When you use it again, pay one month and regain access to your account and data. It’s easy to use and have many instructional videos online. It is a good alternative to much more expensive software like NUD*IST or MaxQDA.

Need to quickly visualize qualitative data?
Tagxedo.com is a word cloud generator on steroids. Sometime you just need a graphic to illustrate all the wonderful things people are saying about your program. Why rely on a boring table when a word cloud is more impactful? There are many free word cloud generators out there. What I like about Tagxedo is that you can customize fonts, colors and even the shape of the cloud. Below is a word cloud of this blog in the shape of a hand!

blog_wordmap

Feeling statistically adventurous?
R analysis software from the R-project.org is a free software for statistical computing and graphics generator. It is an open software, meaning that many people collaborated to create it and now they are sharing it with the world. I have personally not used it, but I have seen it make its way through the research community. It may not look as fancy as some other well known programs like SPSS or SAS, but it gets the job done, it’s free, and it has tons of tutorials online.

Still think that managing research and evaluation efforts on your own is a bit daunting? At Healthy Teen Network we will be happy to provide training, technical assistance, or evaluation support to help you design an evaluation plan suitable for your project. Healthy Teen Network research and evaluation staff have the capacity to conduct, and provide technical assistance on the broad scope of evaluation needs for adolescent health professionals:

  • needs and resource assessments using multiple data collection methods and approaches (i.e., secondary analysis, collecting new data);
  • qualitative data analysis;
  • design and implementation of evaluation plans;
  • design and implementation of quantitative and qualitative data collection tools and methods;
  • design and implementation of participant assessment and instructor observation protocols and tools;
  • data analysis including multivariate analysis and reporting; and
  • continuous quality improvement analysis and implementation.

Submit a service request form today to find out more about how we can support you to build your evaluation capacity.

Genevieve Martínez García, PhD, is a Senior Researcher and Valerie Sedivy, PhD, is a Senior Program Manager at Healthy Teen Network.

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