Philly Teens Show Their Support for Teen Health

Teens pose on the marble steps of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia during a March 23, 2018, Teen Health Week panel on substance use and abuse

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.

World map with green marks to indicate places where THW 2018 events are taking place

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.

Teens dressed in lime green t-shirts pose together for a photograph during a March 23, 2018, Teen Health Week panel on substance use and abuse

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.

If you want to learn more about Teen Health Week, be sure to check out our official homepage or check out the hashtag #2018teenhealth on Twitter and Instagram.

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Poison Control Experts Challenge the Karabots Junior Fellows

Students in the Krabots Junior Fellows Program speak with Robb Bassett, Interim Director of the Poison Control Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Challenge videos are all the rage on YouTube, from the “Cinnamon Challenge” (where one tries to eat a tablespoon of cinnamon without any liquid) to the “Chubby Bunny Challenge” (where a person tries to stuff as many marshmallows into their mouth and say, “Chubby Bunny”) to the “Ghost Pepper Challenge” (where a person eats a ghost pepper, one of the spiciest peppers on Earth). Searches on YouTube will find a plethora of videos of these and similar challenges, with different YouTubers competing to create the most audacious or entertaining video.

Recently students in the Karabots Junior Fellows learned about the potential health risks of these challenges from a pair of experts. Robb Bassett, DO, FAAEM, FCPP and Steven Walsh, MD, who, in addition to serving as Fellows of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, are both experts when it comes to medical emergencies. Dr. Bassett is the interim Medical Director of the Poison Control Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia while Dr. Walsh is the attending physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Einstein Medical Center. The pair took the students through several popular YouTube challenges, explaining their possible health risks. For example, the Cinnamon Challenge, according to a 2013 report in the medical journal Pediatrics, can cause aspiration, pulmonary inflammation or even permanent respiratory damage; the effects can be exacerbated in people with asthma.

Robb Bassett, Interim Director of the Poison Control Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, shows a PowerPoint slide on counterfeit drugs to students in the Karabots Junior Fellows Program

They used this as a way to segue into a talk about the risks of counterfeit recreational or prescription drugs. Did you know that, when formed into a pill, rat poison can be made to resemble prescription painkillers like Oxycontin? Bassett and Walsh explained the hazards of counterfeit drugs, while the students asked them a variety of questions related to their fields, YouTube challenges, and the ethics of treating different kinds of patients in emergency situations. Overall it was an engaging talk where many of the students shared their opinions and gained new knowledge.