Did you know that teenagers make up 13% of the total US population? However, despite making up such a significant portion of the population there was no week focusing on teen health until 2016. In January 2016, Pennsylvania became the first state to devote a week to spreading awareness about the health issues directly affecting teenagers with the creation of Pennsylvania Teen Health Week (THW). Teen Health Week was the brainchild of Dr. Laura Offutt. Dr. Offutt is a Pennsylvania physician, Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, and the host of Real Talk with Dr. Offutt, an online resource devoted to teen health. CEPI is proud to be an active partner in Pennsylvania Teen Health Week. January 9-13 is the observance Pennsylvania Teen Health Week 2017. This year each day focuses on one of five themes: Nutrition and Fitness, Violence Prevention, Mental Health, Sexual Health, and Substance Use.
This past Monday we traveled to the Pennsylvania State House in Harrisburg to commemorate the second annual Pennsylvania Teen Health Week. Philadelphia youth representing the Karabots Junior Fellows Program, the Teva Pharmaceuticals Internship Program, and the Out4STEM Program were on site to show their support. The festivities began with statements from four prominent Pennsylvania physicians: Dr. Rachel Levine, Physician General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; Dr. Loren Robinson, Deputy Secretary for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (and Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia), Dr. Robert Sharrar, Executive Director of Safety, Epidemiology, Registries and Risk Management and Member of the Philadelphia Board of Health (as well as a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia), and Dr. Offutt. The event concluded with a reading of Gov. Tom Wolf’s proclamation announcing January 9-13 as Pennsylvania Teen Health Week 2017. Several Philadelphia youth, including Xavier Gavin and Su Ly of the Karabots and Teva Program, respectively, bravely read Gov. Wolf’s proclamation.
After the reading, our students took a tour of the Pennsylvania State House, visiting the chambers of the Pennsylvania Senate, House of Representatives, and Supreme Court. While they viewed from the observation decks of the respective government houses, we hope to see some of them as lawmakers and policy developers in the future (remember: the minimum age to serve in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is 21).
Pennsylvania Teen Health Week 2017 is sponsored in part by the Pennsylvania Southeast Region Area Health Education Center (AHEC); System of Care, a program of the Delaware County Department of Human Services; the Craig Dalsimer Division of Adolescent Medicine, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; and Honeygrow.