Healthy Teen Network

Simple Tips to Help You Find a Good Mental Health Counselor

Mental Health - Untangling the thoughts

The world becomes more and more hectic every day creating even worse stresses and levels of mental diseases to the people. Many of them try to cope with the problems themselves, but if you have trued and it does not work, you can always seek professional help of a mental health counselor or rehabilitation counselor in case you have gone through some mental trauma. So if you would like to find such expert, read our little tips below.

Talk to your primary care physician: The first person you need to talk to if you want to find mental health counselor is your physician. You need to explain your problems so that he or she can give you the right direction to begin with.

Check local hospital: If you have just moved or your physician did not know how to help you, simply go to your local hospital to seek for help. As a rule, hospitals know many good mental health counselors and various programs in the area to lead you in the right direction.

Ask someone you know: First of all ask people whom you know may have similar problems because they will be able to help you at most. If there is no one with similar problems, just ask you relatives and friends who may know any contacts from maybe their friends. If you are not willing to share your problem with the close people, keep in mind that many schools and churches have specialists and you can find rehabilitation counselor there.

Do the homework: It is vital that you find a person with good reputation that will be able to help you solve any issues you have in your life. You need to make some background research of any mental health counselor that you consider visiting in order to see that he or she is a real professional.

Think about yourself: Keep in mind that you are looking for a rehabilitation counselor or mental health counsel whom you will be comfortable talking to and being with. You need to trust this person completely to open yourself and get some professional help and feedback that will solve any issues. Keep also in mind the factor of affordability, because otherwise you the ability to effectively talk to your counselor, and is your counselor able to find the answers to your current problems.

Take your time: One of the most important moments in the therapy is to take your time. Once you find rehabilitation counselor visit him or her for at least couple of months, this is the time required to gain your trust and to feel real support of the professional.

Terence Obrien is established as a content producer for a range of digital content hubs, who shares opinion on a range of counseling subjects such as how to find a good counselor to resolve mental problems and areas alike. A proud traveler of online space and an influential blogger in everything related to the counseling.

Reputation Management for Your Healt Businesses

health-dentist

Reputation management has become more and more important as the years progress. In the old days businesses relied solely on word of mouth for their reputation – if you did a good job then your business boomed as it was recommended by people to other people – simple. However, these days things have got a lot more complex when it comes to reputation management. You have the internet and social media to contend with and armies of people willing to complain and gripe about the slightest perception of “bad service”. With that in mind we look at some of the ways we can improve reputation management for businesses.

Improving Customer Service

There are a variety of things you can do to quickly and easily improve your customer service at your business. Firstly, make sure that staff are instructed in how to address customers, how to deal with complaints and how to make friendly small chat. Anyone in a customer facing role – whether it is as a receptionist, a dentist or a salesperson should have a clear understanding of polite etiquette. Simple courtesies like asking for feedback, offering help, smiling and asking “how are you today” greatly improve the customer experience.

Go The Extra Mile

People who have an average customer experience aren’t going to sing your praises to anyone – we all expect a minimum level of customer service these days. The trick really is to go the extra mile with customers so that they become advocates for your business. People who feel extra taken care of, have received special attention or freel like they have got a great deal or service are much more likely to give positive reviews to other people and online.

Secure Your Social Platforms

dental-care-health-doctors-meetingNot just Facebook and Twitter etc. In order to succeed with online reputation management you need to be actively engaged on all major platforms. Complaints and negative reviews should be responded to courteously and sensibly – do not let your emotions dictate your response. It is a good idea to secure all review and social platforms and monitor them. Also remember to solicit reviews from your customers – you can simply ask them to review you on a particularly platform. Only asking the happy customers increases the likelihood you will have more positive than negative reviews.

Dominate the Search Engines

If you make sure that your social profiles are all complete and active and you have reputable business listings online it is likely that any negative comments about your business won’t actually appear high enough in the search engines for you to need to worry about them. You should still respond politely to criticism and take an active involvement but if you have proper marketing in place people won’t see them anyway. Getting negative reviews removed can be a painful process and can cause you new problems – as happened here. Try to be courteous and kind and only use legal action as a very last resort.

3 Easy Ways to Take Better Care of your Eyes

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Millions of people all over the world spend a huge amount of time, money and effort trying to improve their health, lose weight or get fit, but many of us neglect our eye health, which is crucial to our quality of life. So how can we make some simple changes to take better care of our eyes?

In this post, we’ll look at three simple ways you can improve your eye health, and minimize the risks of developing AMD, cataracts and other ailments with serious potential consequences.

1. Ensure you get the vitamins and nutrients your eyes need

Whether it’s through your diet, supplements or just multivitamins, there are numerous nutrients that play a major role in keeping your eyes healthy.  You should be looking for the following nutrients in your food or supplements:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Beta-carotene
  • Zinc
  • Zeaxanthin
  • Selenium
  • Lutein
  • Calcium
  • Thiamin
  • Folic acid
  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids
  • N-acetyl cysteine
  • Alpha lipoic acid

If you prefer to get your nutrients the natural way, aim for plenty of fish, fruits and vegetables, and replace chocolate and sweets with nuts and seeds.

2. Wear appropriate eyewear

woman-in-eye-glassesWhen you’re out in the sun, be sure to wear high quality sunglasses that reduce glare and protect your eyes from debris. In particular, you should be wearing sunglasses that offer 100% UV protection – you can check this in advance by asking before you make a purchase, especially if you’re buying less expensive frames. If you’re happy to splash out a little, big names like Chanel, Tom Ford, Ray Ban or Oakley sunglasses will be put through rigorous testing procedures to ensure your eyes are properly protected – a good way to justify that luxury purchase!

Similarly, if you’re engaging in an activity that might present a risk to your eyes – such as sport or DIY – ensure you’re wearing appropriate eye protection at all times.

3. Stop smoking

Smoking is not only anti-social, expensive and linked to numerous forms of cancer and other diseases, but there is a very real and confirmed link between smoking and visual impairment, particularly AMD (age-related macular degeneration) and cataracts, the two leading causes of vision-loss in the UK and the US.

So when it comes to taking better care of your eyes, a few simple changes in lifestyle or habit could make a considerable and noticeable difference, and ensure your vision stays healthy for many years to come.

Snoring – How to Quit the Habit

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Almost everyone has a bit of a snore on occasion, but, if snoring is a regular occurrence for you, it impacts quality and quantity of your sleep as well as imposing on others who may sleeping nearby.

Sleeping may lead to poor quality sleep, which then equates to irritability, daytime fatigue, and potentially, increased health problems. And, should your snoring keep your partner awake at night, it may then adversely impact your relationship.

Fortunately, sleeping in a separate bedroom is not the sole remedy for the problem. There is an array of alternative solutions available which can help you as well as your partner in terms of enjoying a better night’s rest.

What is snoring?

Snoring occurs when the air does not move freely through the nose and throat throughout sleep. The surrounding tissues then vibrate, and that produces the familiar sound. Those who snore frequently have too much nasal and throat tissue, which is also referred to as “floppy” tissue. It’s this tissue that is prone to vibration. Further, the positioning of your tongue may also impose upon your capacity to breath smoothly.

So as to be able to quit the habit, it’s necessary to identify why and how you are snoring. There is good news – irrespective of the cause, there remains a number of solutions in terms of relieving snoring.

Snoring

Stop snoring through lifestyle changes

Lose weight. If you are overweight, if you are able to drop a few pounds, it can help to reduce the fatty tissues that persist in the rear of the throat. This will reduce or possibly even stop snoring entirely.

Exercise. Besides helping to lose weight, exercising can also help to cease snoring. By exercising your abs, arms, and legs, it will serve to tone your throat muscles, and in turn, that may progress to lessen the snoring.

Quit smoking. If you are a smoker, it can enhance your snoring, given that it irritates membranes within the nose and throat, and that aids in blocking the airways, thus leading to snoring.

Avoiding/ reducing alcohol and sleeping pills. And add sedatives to this short but important list. They all relax the throat muscles and thus, cause interference to breathing patterns. Discuss this with your doctor, particularly with respect to any prescription medications you are using. These can encourage deeper sleeping patterns, which can enhance snoring.

Stop snoring through bedtime remedies

Clear your nasal passages. If you are suffering from a stuffy nose, rinse your sinuses using saline solution prior to going to bed. Using a nasal decongestant, nasal strips, or a Neti pot, will also likely help you to breathe more “healthily” during sleep. If you do suffer from allergies, aim to reduce any pet dander (if you have pets), and/ or dust mites in the bedroom, or try an allergy medication.

Moist bedroom air. If the air is dry, it can irritate the membranes within the throat and nose. Thus, if that is the problem, you may find that a humidifier helps.

Alter your sleeping position. Through elevating the position of your head by a few inches it can help to ease your breathing and encourage your jaw, and thus tongue, to move forward. You can find specially designed pillows which will help to prevent snoring.

Avoid sleeping on your back. There are various ways to achieve this, such as tying a tennis ball to the back of your pajama top, which in turn makes the process of lying on your back “somewhat” uncomfortable. Irrespective which method you choose, after some time, it will become habitual to sleep on your side.

Anti-snoring mouth appliance. Such devices help to open your airways. You can purchase a custom-made one from your dentist, though, for a cheaper alternative, you can put together a DIY kit which are generally available from local pharmacies.

Stop snoring through throat exercises

Start out slowly with these exercises then begin to increase on the number of sets.

  • Repeat the vowels out loud for a period of three minutes daily.
  • Close your mouth then purse your lips. Hold the position for 30 seconds.
  • Open your mouth and then move your jaw to the left and hold for a period of 30 seconds. Repeat to the alternative side.
  • Open your mouth and then contract the muscle at the rear of your throat in repeated fashion over a period of 30 seconds.

If snoring is causing severe life issues, besides consulting with your doctor, you may also wish to discuss the matter with an ENT specialist near you.

What Causes Teeth to Discolor?

Dental-Care-Market

What causes the brown spots on my teeth?

This may be a sign of enamel demineralization or of tooth decay (caries). Or, it could merely be superficial staining, such as the sort of staining that is produced through the consumption of tea, coffee, wine, and also from food additives and tobacco.

Furthermore, it can be caused as a result of failing dental restorations such as crowns and fillings, as these frequently begin to stain at the interface or margin of the tooth restoration area.

Brown spots that appear inside the teeth are referred to as intrinsic stains, often being the resultant factor of antibiotic treatment during the time the teeth were still forming. However, this can also occur as a result of excessive fluoride consumption, in addition to issues that affected the normal formation of teeth structure, such as a childhood injury or illness (measles, for example).

What can I do about the brown staining on my teeth?

Normally, brown staining results from a frequent consumption of substances such as tea, coffee, and/or alternative drinks that contain caramel coloring, for example cola. Tar from cigarette smoke, is another common factor that may be involved.

Nevertheless, these are sources of extrinsic staining, and are usually easily removed through improved hygiene, dental prophylaxis (a cleansing procedure carried out by a dentist), and avoidance of such compounds.

Brown spots may also appear on the teeth on account of poor oral hygiene or tooth decay (caries).

My teeth appear yellow. Is there something that ought to be done to alter this?

Yellowing teeth is a perfectly normal variation on the shade of teeth, and there’s not usually any medical consequence that is related. It’s natural that teeth should darken as they age, due to the dentin layer that lies below the enamel outer shell continuing to thicken throughout our lifetimes.

A further cause of yellowing, however, is the acceleration of dentin formation in the response to various stresses, such as when the teeth are chronically ground together – known as bruxism.

A frequent routine used to make teeth lighter in color is bleaching, given that most people prefer to retain a somewhat youthful appearance.

Sometimes, poor oral hygiene can lead to the accumulation of plaque, which then entails extrinsic staining on the teeth. That can also appear yellow in coloration.

My teeth are beginning to look gray. What causes the gray coloration?

Teeth that have a gray-colored appearance are usually this way because of molecules that have a dark pigmentation becoming incorporated into the hard external layers – the enamel and dentin layers – as the teeth form. This is a condition referred to as intrinsic staining, and can be a result of the use of tetracycline antibiotics.

My teeth appear to be darkening. What could have caused this to happen?

The darkening of teeth is a frequent occurrence due to the incorporation of various medications or pigmented minerals throughout their formation, or it can happen from the saturation of iron which arises from the bloodstream at times of inflammation. This occurs when a tooth or the teeth in general are under some form of trauma.

There are brownish-gray looking spots (“freckling”) on my teeth. Should this be a reason for concern?

Oftentimes, teeth that have uniformly distributed brownish-gray spots appear that way due to fluorosis. However, there are various alternative types of intrinsic staining that may also create this appearance. Enamel hypoplasia might also bring about an irregular stained or pitting appearance within the enamel of either a single tooth are many teeth.

Should I be concerned that my teeth have many white spots on them?

These white spotted lesions appear in the form of frosted areas on the tooth enamel, and can be representative of early tooth decay or enamel demineralization. As acids from food and drink and plaque acids start to dissolve the enamel on the surface of the teeth, they begin to take on a matte, etched-like appearance.

In essence, at a microscopic level, the enamel looks rough and as such, plaque more readily adheres to it. The white spot lesions start to attract stains from tea, coffee, food coloring additives, and perhaps from tobacco. Thus, the enamel looks either brown or yellow in color.

Isolated white spots on the surface of the teeth can sometimes be caused by enamel hypoplasia, and this occurs during tooth formation.

Furthermore, it can be caused by excessive fluoride consumption throughout the time of tooth development, otherwise known as fluorosis.

For help with teeth discoloration, get in touch with this Greenwood IN dentist.

What is the Importance of Behavior Training – Challenging Positive Violent Management?

care-certificate-training

Enhancing personal effectiveness at workplace has turned out to be a priority by many. No matter who you are, which sector you are concerned with, or what your job exactly is- being able to empower the most from your skill is something that every company needs. This is where behaviour training – challenging positive violent management makes its way.

The behavior training is not just a course but a method that helps you develop a precise understanding about how do people work, interact and behave, so that at the end of the day you can successfully communicate, negotiate or influence in order to achieve positive results.

How Does Behavior Training Work?

Behavior training is a vast course that covers numerous aspects of human behavior and the type of challenges that it posses. With the help this course you will be able to acknowledge

  • Different types of challenging behavior and their impact
  • Internal and external influences on the behavior
  • Factors that cause challenging behavior
  • Outcomes and results of challenging behavior
  • Response to scenario based situations or questions
  • Values to approach for handling behavior
  • Positive strategies to nurture positive results

Hence, behavior training incorporates exceptional tools, ideas and agendas that can be beneficial for almost anyone including health specialists, day care employees, teachers, public servants, transporters, airlines and many more.

Best thing about these types of courses is that they are supported by guaranteed tools and methodologies that ensures the trainee adapts each and every concept in no time. Other than taking help from proficient teachers, the trainee can even make use of resources, contents and programs which allows them to complete their training in a competent manner.

Benefits of Behavior Training- Challenging Positive Violent Management

There are innumerable benefits of registering for behavior training courses and with the help of the program you can

Improve Organizational Performance:

Behavior is the essence of any business. For having a positive graph it is important to introduce positive outlook at the workplace too. And, there cannot be a better option than behavior training- challenging positive violent management for the purpose. When employees become aware of the behavior that they need to showcase, along with the methods that they should utilize for tackling challenging behavior then this ultimately leads to improved performance.

Productive Working Environment:

It is the behavior that can make a company everything or nothing. So, with the use of positive behavior workers can induce a positive working environment that would provide productive results for the business or the sector that they are associated with.

Positive & Profitable Outcomes:

The three Ps which are Positive, Productive and Profitable are regarded to the outcome of behavior training, and hence encouraged at almost every sector.

The way you project behavior or the methods that you use for handling challenging behavior can indeed bring a huge amount of difference in your work. Therefore, when the aim is to enhance personal effectiveness for your work then behavior training is something that you should consider.

Do Latino Youth Really Want to Get Pregnant?

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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 fromhttp://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.

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.

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

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 forHealthy 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  majesticLady 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 helpfulwebsite.  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.

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