Archive for April 2009

Have You Had “The Talk”?

Teen Sex TalkHave your parents had “the talk” with you? You know the one I mean…the sex talk. Having the talk is something many parents dread…they never know when to have it, how much to divulge, and it how to go about it.

But the benefits to talking about sex with your parents are unquestionable. A recent survey by O Magazine and Seventeen Magazine found that when parents, especially mothers, talk with their daughters explicitly about sex, their daughters are half as likely to get pregnant, are more likely to practice safe sex, and have fewer regrets about sex.

I can’t actually remember my mom, or my dad for that matter, ever having “the talk” with me. I grew up in a fairly religious household where the assumption was that both my sister and I would wait until marriage to lose our virginity. Maybe my mom did share a few things with me, but no more info than I’d already gotten from Health Ed.

And it seems that today there is still a big disconnect between moms and daughters when it comes to the talk. The O and Seventeen survey found that 90% of moms said they’d had the sex talk with their daughters, but only 51% of the girls said they had.

While the talk has the potential to be uncomfortable and, let’s face it, strange, it’s important to be able to talk honestly and openly about sex. And you don’t have to wait around for your parents to break the ice…if they haven’t brought it up yet with you, chances are they’re not sure how to get started. So why not give them some help? O and Seventeen editors Gayle King and Ann Shoket offered their suggestions for how teen girls can encourage the “talk” to happen in a positive way on Good Morning America earlier this week. Here are their ideas:

  • Bring up the subject casually
  • Use movies or TV as ice-breakers
  • Calm your mother’s fears
  • Be sure to discuss birth control
  • Don’t be afraid to ask uncomfortable questions

Have you had “the talk” with your mom or dad? If so, who brought it up? How did it go?

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WIN The Double-Daring Book for Girls

Double-Daring Book for GirlsIf you loved the Daring Book for Girls, then I’ve got great news for you! Fantabulous authors YA Andrea Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz have just published The Double-Daring Book for Girls, which is chock full of how-to’s for the daring girl in all of us.

As a research junkie, I can’t even begin to imagine how much work it was to pull together all of this info… The Double-Daring Book addresses everything from how to dye your hair using Kool-Aid to the ins and outs of running a magazine. My personal favorites? How to conduct an orchestra (I’ve always wanted to know how to move the baton), how to get out of trouble (although in truth I could have used this one about twenty-five years ago), and how to say hello, good-bye, and thank you around the world (just a good thing to know!).

Here’s what Andrea and Miriam have to say on their website about what daring means for girls:

As we learned in the original Daring Book for Girls, daring comes in many flavors. It can mean seeking adventure and being bold when bold is called for. It can mean being confident and brave and saying yes to the good risks that life brings your way. It is true that some daring happens on a grand scale, such as rafting down a raging river, surfing monster waves, saving lives, or traveling on a worldwide expedition. But everyday daring, courage, and bravery are no less important, whether it’s trying something new, sticking up for someone who is being teased, or taking a small chance that winds up making a big difference.

Want to win a copy of The Double-Daring Book for Girls? Just leave a comment below about what daring means to you or write about a time you were daring in your own life, and you’ll be entered to win! Two winners will be selected on Tuesday, April 21, 2009.

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Teen Truth Live for California Schools

Teen Truth Live

If bullying or drugs and alcohol are a big problem at your school and you live in California, here’s an opportunity you should know about.

Teen Truth Live has partnered with Comcast and Time Warner Cable to offer ten middle and high schools in CA the chance to win a powerful Teen Truth Live workshop.

Teen Truth Live: Bully and Teen Truth Live: Drugs & Alcohol are interactive, multi-media presentations that incorporate motivational speeches with student created award-winning films. By giving students a voice, challenging them to think differently, and empowering them to make a difference in the lives of their peers, Teen Truth Live hopes to make school environments safer, healthier, and more productive.

If you are a student at a middle school or high school in California, visit the contest site to enter to win a Teen Truth Live program. Deadline for applying is April 20th!

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Suspended for Taking Birth Control?

I just read an article in the Washington Post about a girl from a Fairfax, VA high school who was suspended for two weeks and is facing expulsion for taking a birth control pill while at school.

The high school, like more and more across the country, has strict rules about carrying or taking pills of any kind, including ibuprofen and other over-the-counter medicines. Their aim is to crack down on the use of illegal drugs on campus, but as a result, students like the one feature in the article are paying a hefty price.

From the article:

During two weeks of watching television game shows and trying to keep up with homework online, the Fairfax teen, an honor student and lettered athlete, had time to study the handbook closely. If she had been caught high on LSD, heroin or another illegal drug, she found, she would have been suspended for five days. Taking her prescribed birth-control pill on campus drew the same punishment as bringing a gun to school would have.

I understand wanting to keep illegal drugs off school campuses, but in my opinion, this policy is extreme. While many schools allow their students to keep their medication at the nurse’s office, this policy places an extra burden on teens and even feels like an invasion of privacy on girls who who want to, say, take a pain-reliever for menstrual cramps, or practice safe sex by taking oral birth control.

What do you think of this no tolerance policy?

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Short Film Contest for Aspiring Filmmakers

@15 Short Film Contest

I just found out about a contest for all you aspiring filmmakers: the @15 Short Film Contest sponsored by Film Independent and presented by Best Buy.

If you’re between the ages of 13-18, you can enter an original short film from now through April 15, 2009 to throw your hat in the ring. Films will be judged based on quality, creativity of content, and ability to effectively tell a story.

Once the 15 finalists are selected by a panel of judges, teens will vote on their favorite films throughout the month of May. The winning film will receive a $1500 Best Buy gift card, and the other fourteen finalists will receive a $150 Best Buy gift card. To read the official contest rules and find out more, visit the contest web page here.

This isn’t the first time Best Buy has supported the creativity and talent of teens. They’re the co-sponsor of the @15 Challenge, which empowers teens ages 13 – 18 to see their ideas for social change come to life, which I blogged about last fall. To find out more about the @15 community, visit the website here!

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Can Empathy Be Taught?

EmpathyI just read a really interesting article in the NY Times about how schools across the country are taking a stand against bullying by making empathy a formal part of the curriculum. School administrators have pointed out the disconnect between having a student body who’s super aware of human rights tragedies such as what’s happening in Darfur, yet so clueless about the social injustices peers face in their own schools.

According to the article, some schools give rewards to students for displaying empathy (like sitting with a new student at school or helping a peer out who’s feeling scared or anxious). Others are creating special research projects to help students identify with physical and mentally disabled people.

I still remember the people in my high school who were at the receiving end of the relentless teasing and ostracizing. It wasn’t pretty. I remember feeling bad for the victims of the teasing, but I don’t know if I truly knew how to put myself in their shoes and see the situation from their vantage point. I love that schools today are taking empathy seriously, since when it comes down to it, it’s all about respecting ourselves and others, getting real, and acknowledging that we’ve all got feelings.

Do you go to a school where empathy has been formally taught? Do you think the empathy curriculum has made an impact at your school?

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For a crash course in empathy, check out the FX show 30 Days. The show features filmmaker Morgan Spurlock or others immersing themselves into a completely unfamiliar lifestyle (such as being in prison, working for minimum wage, etc.) for 30 days.

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Run For One Planet

Run For One Planet

I’m back from my southern California vacation, relaxed, motivated, and inspired, having had the chance to catch up with friends, soak in the sun, and go on some great runs. As you know, running is my favorite way to stay in balance and recharge.

Today, I wanted to share with you another cool way that running is being used – to inspire environmental action.

My friend Matt Hill and his partner Stephanie Tait, have created Run for One Planet, a carbon neutral year-long run around North America. Matt and Stephanie know that “small steps add up” and that collectively we can all make a difference in improving ourselves and the environment.

To make their point, Matt and Stephanie are running one marathon each per day. No, that’s not a typo. I’m talking 26 miles each and every day for one year, adding up to 11,000 miles over the course of a twelve-month period.

As they run through small towns and big cities alike, Matt and Stephanie are doing school visits, interviews with the media, and community events to draw attention to their campaign which has raised more than $80,000 so far. All the money raised through the tour will ultimately be used to set up a Legacy of Action that will be poised to lead the emerging field of environmental and lifestyle education for kids.

To find out more about Run for One Planet, which will end its year-long trek in May, visit the website or !

(And on that note, I think it’s time I get out for a run!)

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