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, January 25, 2013

A Little Insight on Your Labs

Last week SMART Youth had a quick overview of what goes on at your doctor's appointment.
Whether it's blood work, or a regular check up, here are a few things to help you clear up all the confusing "doctor talk."

Basic Blood Work:

CBC: Complete Blood Count, this provides information on the kinds and number of cells in the blood, especially red blood cells.

Iron: (Fe), blood cells carrying oxygen.
Blood cells that are lacking in oxygen can mean someone is anemic (low iron). This can lead to lack of energy and lethargy (very tired most of the time).

Cholesterol: (HDL, LDL, and combined) The amount of cholesterol in your blood can come from your diet, weight, or even genetics (hereditary trait).
  • HDL: High Density Lipoprotein, this is also known as the GOOD cholesterol since it can provide protection AGAINST Heart Disease.
    Above 60 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dL) is Above Average
    40-60 mg/dL is Average
    Below 40 mg/dL is Low
  • LDL: Low Density Lipoprotein, this is also know as the BAD cholesterol since is can CAUSE Heart Disease.
    Below 100 mg/dL is Above Average
    130 mg/dL is Average
    130-159 mg/dL is Border-line High
    160 or more is High
  • HDL + LDL are both levels combined.  

What else happens at the Doctor's Office?

BMI: Body Mass Index, your doctors checks your weight range against the precautions of either being underweight or overweight in comparison to your body type.


Pap Smears: Your Gynecologist (GYN) does a swab of your cervix for abnormal cells. These can consist of pre-cancer or cancer cells.
HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) can cause abnormal cells in the cervix and is the leading cause of Cervical Cancer, which has NO SYMPTOMS!
Pap smears should be done every 3-5 years (once sexually active).
If you have ever had an abnormal pap smear, it is recommended to get a pap smear annually.

Testicular Self Exams: These self exams should happen once a month after a shower. You are checking for any changes (pain, lumps, swelling) and a size comparison between testes.
*Testicular Cancer is most common in men UNDER 40!
So don't forget to do this quick self exam! If there are any changes go to your doctor!

Hope this helped clear up some alphabet soup with your labs and appointments!
Stay Safe, Stay SMART!

Friday, January 18, 2013

SMART Youth Answers: So, Sext Me, Maybe?

*This blog was written by another youth leader that is not Christina.

Sexting, AKA sexual text messaging, is the act of sending or receiving sexually explicit or implicit text messages or images electronically via wireless device. Think of it as the modern day version of ‘phone sex’ -- except, unlike phone sex, sexting leaves very little to the imagination.

Sexting originated in the early 2000s as phones started to have  cameras and has become a trend among teens curious about sex and sexuality.

  • Talk about both the small (false sense of intimacy, loss of control, possible future issues in jobs/relationships) and large consequences (jail, social isolation, depression, bullying, school suspensions, etc)
  • Sexting includes more than just texts today -- Facetime, Skype, Facebook, etc are all places where "sexting" occurs 
  • Digital technology ensures that all images and words are available forever and are almost impossible to "delete" or destroy -- (ex. Anthony Weiner's twitter pictures of his private parts will always be available.)
  • Not just an issue for teens, but it is the time when we are most curious and susceptible to other people's requests.

The lesson to be learned here is that the images you send wirelessly can be permanent. You should be very careful when sending sexual messages and images because you never know who else will see it.

Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn't mean you should!
Be Smart and Be Safe!
Understand the consequences of your actions.
The choice is yours. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Perspective on Coming Out

SMART Youth Answers gave some tips on how to "come out" to people in your life.
(Coming Out!)
Here is the perspective from another youth leader that will hopefully help provide more tips and comfort for your own journey or a friends.

"Like many young gay men and women, I struggled with coming out. I had to deeply and sincerely search for courage within myself. For me, the search was not easy. 
For starters, I had no guarantee that I would find the courage there at all. I was 10 years old at the time and I was born and raised into a Protestant/Christian household and family. It was difficult enough to think that that guy in the basketball shorts was cute. To add to it, I listened to my pastor and my family talk about how wrong homosexuality was many times. 
I was also under the impression that I had to have a girlfriend. I remember lying down in my bed and thinking, “I’m supposed to like girls, right?” However, when the time came, I knew that I didn’t like girls the way other guys around my age did. 
So, when I had to find the courage to tell my friends and family, I was not just letting other people into my life, I was also opening myself to be vulnerable and honest about whom I was. I realized that the hardest part for me was not the act of disclosing my sexual preference to my friends and family, but telling myself that I was gay—that I liked men. 
I struggled so much to accept the fact that I was gay. There were times when I thought about other men and immediately felt disgusted that I could think of something so out of the "norm". I remember thinking that there must be something wrong with me—that I could find a cure and finally begin to like girls. 
I couldn’t go on with that lie for long. 
I slowly started to accept my sexual preference and myself. I started in small pieces. After a while, the small pieces accumulated and I started to see my internal struggle start to calm down—the crushing gale winds now coming to a breeze, the ominous cloudy sky now starting to clear up. When I came to terms with myself, it became easier to think about coming out. 
Looking back, I don’t regret anything one bit. 
I love the man who stares back at me in the mirror. I love the man that I’ve grown up to be. I will continue to love myself as well. 
When I finally came out to my friends, I was lucky enough to be around comforting, loving, and understanding people. I am fortunate to continue having friends like that to this day. 
I hope to one day work to make other people’s coming out experience to their friends as loving as mine was. I know that not everyone does. 
If there is anything that I can share about my experience, it’s that you have to know who you are first before you can let others know. Love yourself, love who you are. Embrace your identity and do not allow yourself to be inhibited by other’s influence because they do not know you as well as you do
Indeed, the only person who truly knows you is yourself."

Friday, January 4, 2013

SMART Youth Answers: Drink Me

To drink or not to drink? That is my question.


*This blog was written by youth leader who is not Christina.

Alcohol has been with mankind for quite some time now. Either playing a role in religion or worship to even being used for medical and antiseptic purposes. This fermented drink has been quite the ally, but, like any ally, betrayal quietly waits for one to slip. 

Today, the most commonly abused drug in the United States is alcohol. 

Believe it or not, this drink kills more than 200,000 people each year from all walks of life. Alcohol has been the cause for at least 40% of all traffic fatalities or injuries, 67% of murders, and 33% of suicides within the United States. 

Of course like any substance that can be abused, addiction is common. Abusing this substance can easily result in more than one long term effects, liver damage being the most common. With all these facts piled up in front of you it’s a wonder how and why we still indulge ourselves to such a thing (Says the man writing this with a nice cold beer next to him).
Although we’re dealing with a potentially dangerous substance that can manipulate our lives there is only one thing you can do to stray from danger. Learn about the damn thing! 
Let’s be frank, there are a good amount of underage youths that indulge themselves in alcoholic beverages. Being inexperienced can lead to one’s downfall and that happens to be underage folks' main issue. 
It’s time to lay down the facts and hang up rumors and superstitions on our dear friend Alcohol.

What am I drinking and How should I drink?

Alcohol is basically a sedative (also in the depressant category for drugs and alcohol). A sedative is a substance that causes an individuals activity and excitement levels to decrease. Since it’s bringing you down in a sense, this links alcohol to becoming a hypnotic substance. Hypnotic just means that it causes sleep. 
Why is this important to know, you ask? Let just say it paints a picture of what’s going on in that noggin of yours as you scream out YOLO and down a bottle of Hennessy.

Here are some tips on how to drink responsibly:

  • Having food in your system helps! It decreases the absorption of alcohol into your blood stream. Eating foods that are high in protein are the most helpful.
  • Drink with your group. The ones you know won’t let anything bad happen to you, that won’t blackmail you the next day with drunken photos of you. (We can all thank Reno for teaching me this lesson, jerk)
Personally, I've set up some ground rules with my friend for whenever we decide to drink. They have really come in handy.

· Stick to a Country: To sum it up this rule is first because we learned the hard way that Irish drinks should never meet with Mexican ones…ever. Don’t cause an international crisis…it kind of sucks cleaning after one.

· Choose Your Poison: Similar to the “Stick to A Country” rule, only it pertains strictly to what type of liquor. If you’re having Rum stick to Rum, if you’re having Vodka stick with Vodka.

· Keep it Together Man: This is one of the obvious one's, but we tend to ignore the poor fellow. Know your limit. If you’re not sure what your limit is, safely experiment within a controlled setting. You can even inform your parents that you want to figure what’s your breaking point so you know how to control yourself. Ask a TRUSTED family member or friend to video tape you as you drink, this might help put things into perspective for how you truly act when you are under the influence of alcohol.

· Let’s Not:  The “Let’s Not” rule is probably the hardest one to follow. I think it’s safe to say that SEX and ALCOHOL don’t mix. The mixture can and quite definitely can lead to humiliation, regret, embarrassment, STD’s and MTV's show "Teen Mom" favorite outcome, pregnancy. The most gruesome is sexual assault. If you really want to get lucky with someone, pretty sure you want to do it while having control over yourself.

· Pass:  It’s simple, skip a drink now and then. It’s OK to have a non-alcoholic drink between drinks (or in general). This doesn't make you a wuss or anything of the sorts, it makes you a SMART drinker. That non-alcoholic drink will keep your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) low.

· Sip Don’t Slurp: Dude, just enjoy the drink. Especially if you're paying for it. Keep your wallet and liver happy.

This last one is for cab takers everywhere.
· Choose your Cab Wisely: Late night. Drinks. Pot hole loving cab driver. Conclude with a messy situation. Either have a designated driver (someone who stays sober for the night to drive people home after the outing), or a trusted cab service. If you are near public transportation this is an option, but try to travel with someone else as a safety precaution. 

Hopefully you noticed how I didn’t write down "Don’t drink and drive". Guess why. Because it’s everywhere, you’ve heard it, you’ve seen it. 
Trust me, as a student Paramedic it sucks pulling a corpse out just to get a living guy out of a totaled car (the friend). 
Yes, you only have one life, one body so live a little. However, YOLO should be put in a totally different perspective. You can live life to the max, but with boundaries still there as rails to guide you. Make up your own rules, be responsible know your limits and respect others.
Here's the education now be SMART about your actions!