Public Health Summit Connects Teens, Health Info and Technology

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Teenagers from across the region gathered at the UNC Charlotte College of Health and Human Services this month to learn to make informed decisions about their health and relationships, and how tech they may take for granted can help them along the way.

The Department of Public Health Sciences partnered with the outreach organization I AM My Sister to offer the “I Am Teen Empowerment Summit” for a third straight year.

More than 100 youth and parents participated this year. The daylong summit featured workshops on health, education and relationships facilitated by UNC Charlotte students. Participants also learned to connect public health and technology by planning, designing and developing an Android App on a health topic in a lab led by InTech.

Studies show the average teen spends nine hours per day on media related technology, not including school or homework use. This ubiquity makes such technology the prime candidate for communicating important information. I AM My Sister founder Lela Blackwell said the public health community is creating content with this in mind. The summit is meant as an introduction to the intersection between media technology and health.

“We’re hope that the teens will left with effective ways to utilize technology to help deal with relevant public health topics like stress, sexual health, drug and alcohol abuse and bullying. We also want them to develop a better understanding of how some of the more popular technology mediums work.”

By pairing important public health information with with popular communication channels, the workshop’s architects hope healthy living will become something participants care about and discuss, Blackwell explained.

“Empowering teens to get involved in the community efforts will help them to see the impact on the community and the personal benefits and effect in their own lives.”

Summit sessions covered topics like “Don’t Let Stress Make You A Mess”, “Snapback Your Snapchat” and “Niceness is Priceless”. PHS-led sessions were guided by faculty members Deborah Beete and Camina Davis.

by: Wills Citty