Did you know that opioid overdoses claim 116 lives every day? Or that at least 25% of teens in the US admit to using at least one form of tobacco? Or that 60% of teens admit to experimenting with alcohol? Last Friday, a group of Philadelphia teens assembled at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia to learn about substance use and abuse.
The event was part of the College’s involvement in Teen Health Week, a global initiative to raise awareness of the unique health issues facing teens today. Teen Health Week was the brainchild of College of Physicians Fellow Dr. Laura Offutt, in conjunction with the Center for Education of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. What started in 2016 as a statewide initiative to raise awareness among Pennsylvania teens has rapidly expanded into a global program, with participating events and activities in nearly forty countries on every continent except Antarctica.
Teens gathered in the Thomson gallery to meet with a panel of healthcare and public health experts to discuss topics related to substance use. Priya Mammen, MD, MPH, a Director of Public Health Programs, Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, and a Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia shared her experience as an ER physician, answering questions related to a variety of emergency cases, including trauma and drug overdoses. Elvis Rosado, Education and Community Outreach Coordinator from Prevention Point Philadelphia, explained the devastating cycle of addiction in relation to the opioid epidemic. Finally, representatives from Get Healthy Philly (the City of Philadelphia’s anti-tobacco initiative) discussed tobacco use in teens and the ways tobacco companies attempt to directly target teens as new tobacco customers.
Students in attendance also got the chance to show off their knowledge of teen health topics. Teams of teens took part in a teen health-themed quiz game, competing to answer questions related to mental health, stress, self-care, and substance use. All of our contestants came away with small prize packets of THW merchandise. The event also hosted a raffle for THW-themed yoga mats and a photo booth.
Overall, we were excited by the outpouring of support from Philadelphia teens, who came out, wore lime green, asked great questions, and expressed their passion for taking control of their personal health. In a time of increased teen activism, it was heartening to behold.