CONVERSATION STARTERS

Between teachers at school, friends and peers, media exposure and their health care provider, today's youth are bombarded with messages about their health. And, oftentimes, these messages are factually inaccurate, incomplete or conflict one another.

These Conversation Starters provide a way to begin conversations with youth in a way that is simple and straightforward. Make sure to click on the different topics to get the in-depth look at these helpful tools. 

When is Dating Dangerous?
We know that today’s youth are tomorrow’s adults. But we may not recognize that they are currently forming relationship norms for the future. The prevalence of cyber bullying and teen dating violence is climbing at bewildering rates. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in four adolescents report verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse from a dating partner each year.

Delaying Parenthood
Teens should understand it is okay not to have sex. In fact, abstinence is a great idea, especially if they want to avoid pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).  Of course there are all kinds of birth control methods that - when used carefully, correctly and consistently - can reduce the risk of pregnancy and decrease the risk of STIs.

What is HIV?
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV attacks the body's immune system which fights against infections. A person who has HIV can feel healthy for many years; they do not know they have HIV unless they get a special blood test.


Kids in the Kitchen
Involving kids in the kitchen can improve self-esteem, increase their sense of responsibility and build math and reading skills. Adult help in the kitchen keeps kids safe. The following ideas are ways to have fun cooking with a child at many ages. 

Sneaking Nutrition in with a Science Experiment
This video introduces you to a simple project idea to help you get the conversation started at your school about eating fruits and vegetables. 

What's the Scoop on Sugar?
Sugar in food and drinks can be found naturally or added. Natural sugars are found in foods such as fruit and milk. Added sugars are put into foods when they are processed. Soft drinks, cakes, cookies, ice cream, flavored yogurt, and many cereals have added sugar. But what is the impact of sugar on our bodies? And how much sugar should we have? Click here to find out. 


What's the Scoop with Electronic Cigarettes?
If you have turned on the TV or walked down a busy street recently, you have likely seen electronic cigarettes (e-cigs).  E-cigs are sometimes referred to as vapes, vapors or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). All of these are battery-powered devices that heat up a liquid solution creating a vapor that is then inhaled by the user. 

What the Hookah?
Have you heard of a hookah before? What about shisha, goza, hubble-bubble or Narghile? All of these describe a water pipe where tobacco smoke is passed through water before being inhaled. Smoking hookah originated in Asia and the Middle East hundreds of years ago. The traditions have slowly made their way to America.

What's the Problem with Chewing Tobacco?
People are aware of the dangers of cigarette use, but often underestimate the potential harm of chewing tobacco. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, chewing tobacco has 28 cancer-causing chemicals and is associated with oral (mouth) cancers. Nicotine, the addictive substance in cigarettes, is also found in smokeless tobacco products and many of the challenges in quitting are the same. 


Game Day Conversations
Sports are an excellent way to support young people in staying active and being connected to a social circle outside of their schools. Adults, such as coaches or guardians, are in a unique place to help young people gain perspective and build personal character while playing sports. These conversation starters can help adults to support young people in their process of growing through play. They can be used the day of a game or throughout the season.

Teaching Children to Respond to Bullying
Bullying is behavior that is intentionally hurtful and involves an imbalance of power. It is done by both girls and boys and is usually repeated over time. Often, when kids see bullying happening in their school or neighborhood, they want to help but might not know how. 

Mindfulness
Mindfulness means living in the moment and being open to new experiences. When being mindful it is important to be aware of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment. 


Wearable Fitness Trackers
People choose to track their physical activity and diet with the aid of wearable fitness trackers for a variety of reasons. Users of fitness trackers may wish to quantify physical activity so that they can reach personal health, fitness or weight loss goals. Others aim to gain an awareness of their habits and modify certain health behaviors. Click here to learn more.

Family Fun
Physical activity is important for people of all ages. Being physically active improves overall health and prevents many diseases. Physical activity also relieves stress and improves mood. Exercise is a healthy and productive way to use energy while spending quality time together. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children and adolescents should engage in 60 minutes of physical activity every day. This can be met by exercising for shorter amounts of time which add up to 60 minutes. Click here to learn more.
 
Sneaking Physical Activity in with Fitness Stations
This video introduces you to a simple idea to help get the conversation started at your school about increasing physical activity. Click here to learn more. 


The Truth About Heroin
In the St. Louis region more people are using heroin, and more are dying because of it. According to the National Council of Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NCADA), St. Louis County has seen a 90 percent increase in heroin related deaths since 2007; in 2014 heroin killed 400 people. In 2015 St. Anthony’s Medical Center saw four heroin overdoses in less than an hour in Jefferson County. With hundreds of people in the St. Louis region dying each year from heroin overdoses and abuse rising amongst young people in this region, what can we do to change this big problem? 

What's the Buzz on Energy Drinks?
An energy drink is a beverage that contains caffeine and other ingredients.  Energy drinks are classified as a dietary supplement. Because of this, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not monitor what ingredients go into energy drinks.

Prescription Drug Abuse and Drop Box Program
People often think that prescription and over-the-counter drugs are safe, but that is only the case when they are taken exactly as prescribed and for the purpose intended by the doctor. When abused, these drugs can be addictive and put abusers at risk for overdose and other negative health effects.

Straight to the Point on Marijuana
Many teens have heard the health risks associated with abusing drugs, but what if they still think marijuana is safe? Studies have found that when teens think a drug is harmful, they are less likely to abuse it. However, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says perceived harm and disapproval of marijuana use has decreased among youth.