The Power of Youth: 5 Takeaways

Alia Gehr-Seloover

I was one of several scholarship recipients who attended Healthy Teen Network’s annual conference, The Power of Youth: Joining Forces to Achieve Positive Outcomes, last month in Minneapolis. This was an amazing opportunity for me to network with knowledgeable professionals from around the country who are incredibly invested in the work that they do with young people and health education.

Through the workshops and other conference events I attended, the biggest takeaways for me were:

Humorous approaches to teaching sex education can be very helpful.
Discussing sexuality education with young people can be difficult. Many people feel embarrassed or uncomfortable talking about sexuality and relationships from a health standpoint. By incorporating jokes, fun, and interactive activities and encouraging laughter, teens are more likely to retain the information presented.

We need to always be educating parents and families around discussing sexual health and wellness with young people.
Parents and families are often times a youth’s first contact with health education. It is crucial that parents are getting the comprehensive education that they need to be prepared to comfortably share with the children in their lives.

Advocacy on health policy topics is imperative in ensuring that health education is continually taught in schools and community efforts.
In teaching health education, we need to look at it from a variety of angles. It’s great to plan individual programming for youth, but in order for those programs to be sustained over time, we must look at the bigger picture. Health policy is where it comes together—if we don’t have policy makers on our side, then programming cannot take place.

Sex education and pregnancy prevention needs to be all inclusive.
Teen pregnancy is a systemic issue that stems from more than inadequate sex education. A core issue for sex education and pregnancy prevention is communication. We need to be discussing emotional, psychological, physical, and sexual well-being with ALL teens, including LGBTQ youth who are often times left out of the conversation.

Healthy Teen Network really is a network.
Since The Power of Youth, I have been in contact with many conference speakers and participants, sharing programming ideas and constructive feedback and learning a great deal about the valuable work that we all do to help create healthy teens, and ready parents.

Thank you to everyone who made this experience possible and to Healthy Teen Network for hosting this event!

Alia Gehr-Seloover is an AmeriCorps Volunteer—LGBTQ Health Coordinator at the Institute for Family Health in Kingston, NY

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