If you want to make a difference and help others while learning about sexual health and keeping yourself safe, then you need to join SMART Youth! You can come to any of our events around the city or come to one of our movie nights or Open Mic events. Check out our schedule to learn what we are doing or e-mail

Friday, April 24, 2015

Beautiful Inside & Out: Feed Me! Nutrition & Cooking I

We began our yummy cooking series Beautiful Inside & Out: Feed Me! Nutrition & Cooking! Our awesome SMART chef nutritionist, Tawyna, is with us for the next five weeks to teaching us how to make delicious, easy, AND healthy dishes!

Last week, we made a Vegetarian Taco Bar! The menu included Roasted Poblanos and Potatoes tacos, Black Bean and Roasted Corn tacos, fresh guacamole and pico de gallo, and lime/mint infused water!
Here are some pictures! Make sure you don’t drool on yourself!


Thursday, April 23, 2015

SMART Youth Cooking Classes!

Join us for our 5-week FUN cooking classes!
Tawnya, our SMART Chef Nutritionist, will teach us how to make some awesome, yummy dishes!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

SMART Youth Answers: What is an Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders (ED) are defined as mental conditions that cause you to have an unhealthy relationship with food and your body image. A common misconception about eating disorders is that it’s simply someone who feels they are overweight and stops eating to lose weight. It is much more complex than that. It can range from someone restricting their diet or only eating a specific food, throwing up their food (called purging) or excessively exercising to get rid of calories, or eating excessively. The psychological reasons people develop eating disorders is also complex. Reasons can include feeling like one has a sense of control over their lives, or using food as an unhealthy coping method.

Types of ED

The three most known types of eating disorders are:
  • Anorexia Nervosa: This eating disorder is characterized “an abnormally low body weight, intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of body weight.” Those with anorexia control their caloric intake in a variety of ways, including restricting the amount of food they eat, vomiting after they eat, misusing laxatives, or excessively exercising. This control is equated with self-control, which is then equated with self-worth.
  • Bulimia Nervosa: This eating disorder describes people who typically eat excessively large amounts of food (binging), and then attempt to get rid of the extra calories by either vomiting and laxatives (purging bulimia) or fasting and excessive exercise (nonpurging bulimia). Although there are many similarities in definition between anorexia and bulimia, people with anorexia most times are severely underweight, while those with bulimia can appear average weight or overweight.
  • Binge-Eating Disorder: This is when people eat excessively large amounts of food over a period of time, without the attempt to get with of the extra calories through purging. These binges can be accompanied with feelings of disgust, shame, guilt, or depression. Although many people with binge-eating disorder may be overweight/obese, some may be average weight.


On the surface, eating disorders may seem only about food and weight, but it goes deeper than that. Eating disorders often stem from using food to cope with feelings that a person may feel they cannot handle. This can include low self-esteem, anger, loneliness, an underlying mental health disorders, a history of abuse (physical, sexual, emotional), troubled personal relationships, stress, etc.

Many people also point to the media showing White/Western ideas of beauty as the ideal beauty standard as a root for eating disorders. These ideals include over-valuing thinness for women, muscularity for men, and the idea that we must always work on achieving the “perfect” body. These body values may differ based on race/ethnicity and sexual orientation as well. Our obsessions with dieting in the United States and similar countries leads to a culture that values physical appearance above any other quality. The emotions that come with not feeling good enough or being ridiculed for not having a certain body type can lead to eating disorders as well.


Typically, we associate eating disorders with women in their teens or early 20’s. Although young women are more likely to be diagnosed with eating disorders, men are also affected and can have eating disorders, too. Beauty standards tell women to be thin, while they often tell men to be muscular. This means that eating disorders can look very different between men and women; and because we are more aware of the warning signs for women, men are less likely to be diagnosed.

People who are in occupations or hobbies that maintain a high level of expectation to be a certain way, such as athletes, dancers, models, etc. are also at a higher risk of developing an eating disorder.  These activities often stress dieting and exercise to maintain a certain physique, and this type of pressure could be overwhelming for some.

In the US, 50% of Americans know at least one person who as an eating disorder. If you think that a friend is experiencing symptoms of an eating disorder, there are ways to help. Provide encouragement and support. Offer to help your loved one find a qualified doctor or mental health provider and make an appointment. You might even offer to go along. There are also resources available if you think you may have an eating disorder.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

[Growing Up, Going Up] Refund, Please! Taxes Tips and Answers

For the last week of our “Growing Up, Going Up” series, we had a workshop about filing taxes. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “There are only two certain things in life: death and taxes,” so it’s very important that we learn about this.
As you may or may not know, taxes are the money you pay to your local, state, and the federal government that is used to pay for things like schools, hospitals, roads, and other public services. People who work and make over a certain amount of money are mandated to pay taxes. The rules are over ~$6,200 if you’re being claimed by your parents, over ~$10,150 if you’re filing independently, and over $400 if you were paid in cash.
Many times, filing taxes feels scary because we don’t know all of the rules when it comes to filing. These are some quick things to remember:
  • Anytime you work for pay, you should receive a W4 form from your employer, which is a form that let’s your employer know how much money you want to withhold from your paycheck for taxes.
  • When you are ready to file taxes, you should receive either a W2, a 1099-MISC form (if you were paid in cash), a 1098-T form (if you are enrolled in an accredited institution), or any other government form from your employers in order to properly file taxes. These are official forms that show how much your earned (of paid in tuition) throughout the previous year. If you do not receive one, contact your employer or your school and they can resend it.
  • You can get file your taxes for free! Check out to see if you qualify for free tax services. If you’re feeling confident, you can also file your federal taxes for free from services like TurboTax. They will charge you to file state taxes though
  • When filing, make sure you have your social security card, photo ID, all of your tax documents, all receipts that for expenses you will claim, and your bank information for direct deposit if you have a bank account.
  • Taxes are due by April 15th!

This was a very informative workshop on such an important aspect of adulthood. Thank you to our guest facilitator, Lauren Coy, for giving us the 401 on taxes!







Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I am Woman

In honor of National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, please join us THIS FRIDAY for a discussion on sex, gender, orientation, and what being a girl means to you.

Open to youth ages 13-24 who identify as female (cis, trans*, gender fluid are all welcome)

Date: Friday, March 27th
Time: 6:00-8:30pm
Location: MCCNY Charities
(446 West 36th Street- between 9th & 10th Avenues)
A, C, E, 1, 2, or 3 train to 34th Street - Penn Station

There will be food, fun, and friends (both new and old)!

For more information, please contact Christina or Frances at (212) 289-3900 or email us at

Thursday, March 19, 2015

[Growing Up, Going Up] Just Take Me! Applications, Resumes, and Interview Tips

Continuing our “Growing Up, Going Up” series, we had the chance to discuss a very important part of growing up: resumes and job interviews. We've talked about the basics and techniques related to both resume building and interviewing previously in SMART Youth, but last Friday was a casual discussion about our personal experiences with creating a resume and getting a job.

To quickly recap, resumes are extremely important because they are often the first impression employers get of you. Employers can receive hundreds of resumes and applications for just one position (and will only look at your resume for up to fifteen seconds), so it’s crucial that your resume is the best it can be! This way, you can make it to the next step, which is the job interview.

Many people find the idea of a job interview daunting. This is because we often feel unprepared for what could come. We touched on the basics for interviewing, such as how to dress the part, but one great takeaway is remembering to relax and be yourself. Another takeaway is remembering that even though you are being interviewed for the job, you are also interviewing the job! If you feel that the job position or the setting is not the right place for you, you do not have to take the job.

Although thinking about resumes and jobs may be scary, it doesn't have to be. With good support (and the help of SMART Youth!), you can conquer both the resume and the interview! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

[Growing Up, Going Up] Help Me, BuzzFeed! The Myers Briggs Personality Test & You!

Last week, we started our new workshop series called “Growing Up, Going Up”, which is designed to prepare our young people for their journey into responsible adulthood. In our first workshop, The Myers Briggs Personality Test & You, we discussed our personality types and how knowing them could help us when we think about interacting with others.
There are many personality tests out there, but one of the most common is the Myers Briggs personality test. This test is a questionnaire based off of four theorized components of our personalities:
  • Extraversion/Introversion: These two indicate where you get your energy from. Extroverts draw energy from action and social interaction, while introverts draw energy from reflection and quiet alone time.
  • Sensing/Intuition (Sensing function): These two indicate how you perceive, gather, and interpret information. Those who are sensing prefer when information is based off of something concrete, detailed, or factual. Those who prefer intuition like when information is abstract and theoretical.
  • Thinking/Feeling (Judging function): These two indicate how you make rational decisions. People who are thinking types decide things using reason, logic, rules, and past experiences. People who are feeling types make decisions based on empathy, balance, and consensus.
  • Judging/Perception: These two indicate how people express either their Sensing function or their Judging function. Someone who is categorized as Judging likes things to be settled and complete, while someone who is categorized as Perceptive likes to leave things open.
All of these combinations create 16 distinct personality types.
Although these are theoretical, knowing your personality type can be helpful in learning about your preferred working style, the career path that would suit your personality best, and how you work with others. These personality types are also not set in stone, meaning that being classified as feeling doesn’t mean you don’t have moments where you are not classified as thinking. Use these as a guide to learning for about yourself.
To learn more about the Myers Brigg test, and about each personality, check out these links: