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, June 26, 2015

SMART Youth Turned 10 ! How did we celebrate? With a PROM-themed Party. On behalf of SMART Youth, we would like to thank Walgreens, Midtown Comics, Baked by Melissa, and Whole Foods for their generous donations of Gift Baskets, Comic Books, Cupcakes, and Gift Cards. Check Out Our Number 10 Photo Montage Below

Saturday, May 30, 2015

SMART Youth Turns 10!

SMART Youth is turning 10 and celebrating with a PROM!
Get ready to be nostalgic and party into the night!
Thank you to all our supporters and of course the youth throughout the years!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Barbershop Talk

SMART Youth would like to invite you to our Annual Barbershop Talk

This event is for youth ages 13-24 who are male-identified (cis, trans*, gender fluid are all welcome).

Discussions will be around sex, gender, orientation, and what being a male means to you!
There will also be food and fun, along with a great opportunity to meet new people.

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015
at 446 West 36th street (between 9th & 10th avenues)
A, C, E, 1, 2, or 3 train to 34th Street - Penn Station

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

Friday, May 15, 2015

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

Last Friday was our last week of getting our chef skills on! The theme of our cooking class was vegan baking! We made vegan biscuits and a variety of fillings (like oven-fried chicken, roasted red peppers, and homemade nutella) to make an epic Biscuit Bar!

Here are some pics of us in action!

Friday, May 8, 2015

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

For last week's cooking class, we decided to take a culinary vacation to the Caribbean!

The menu was Jerk Chicken, Coconut Rice & Peas, and Papaya & Avocado Salad, all of which were healthy ans SUPER delicious!

We learned about what is healthy about Caribbean cuisine, and also some great techniques to make our ethnic foods healthier such as swapping out animal lard for healthier oils and fats or adding more veggies into our rice & peas!

Check out the action from last week:

Friday, May 1, 2015

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

SMART Youth continued our cooking series, with last week's menu involving pizza...with a creative twist!

Instead of using regular ol' flour to create out pizza crust, we made the crust with cauliflower.

Yup, you read that correctly. Cauliflower!

This healthier (and gluten-free) alternative was just as delicious as regular pizza!

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:

Friday, March 6, 2015

Where Are We Now? NYC Sexual Health Education Overview

Last week, a facilitator from the Adolescent AIDS Program at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore visited SMART Youth to give a presentation on sex education in NYC. Since 2011, New York City mandates that comprehensive sexual health must be taught in public middle and high schools. This is a big win for those of us who have been advocating for sexual health to be a requirement in schools, especially in middle schools.

The only issue is that not all schools are following through with this mandate. While some schools have started including sexual health in school curricula, many have not. Even if they are providing comprehensive sexual health, there is no standard practice as to who is teaching it and how it’s being taught.

C2P (Connect to Protect) Bronx conducted a survey asking high school teens in the Bronx about their experiences with sexual health education in schools. The results showed that not only were many teens receiving sexual health education after they started having sex, but that the type of information they were receiving was not as comprehensive as we would hope. Most students were taught about HIV/AIDS, condoms, and sexually transmitted illnesses, but only 56% of youth surveyed were taught about teen dating violence, 37% were taught about communication, and 26% were taught about supporting LGBTQ youth. Our young people need more information in order to make healthy decisions about their bodies. Knowledge is power!

We were told of ways to get the NYC government to hold Department of Education accountable for this mandate. Using the hashtags #EnforceTheMandate and #RealSexEd4NYC while tagging your local city councilperson and Mayor Bill DeBlasio is one easy way to show that you’re concerned with the ways sex is taught (and not taught) in NYC schools. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

SMART Youth March & April Calendar

Join us this March and April for our upcoming workshops! March will focus on our journey into responsible adulthood, and April will focus on healthy eating and nutrition!
We are also having our annual Women & Girls' Day Event, "I am WOMAN" at the end of March!
We hope to see you all!

Thank you to everyone who came out to Something for Everybody!

Our Valentine's Day Event "Something for Everybody" was a success! We were able to tie in what we learned throughout the weeks from our Taboo Talks workshops by playing games such as Taboo Taboo, Truth or Dare, and Speed Dating using a Sexual Inventory Stocklist!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

[Taboo Talk V] Sex-R: Despicable Me – BDSM and Other Fetishes

We held our final Taboo Talk workshop, titled Despicable Me, about the world of BDSM and other fetishes.

We’ve posted about fetishes here on our blog before and explained what fetishes are and if it is healthy to have one or not.
Just to recap, the definition of a fetish “specifically refers to a strong sexual preoccupation with an object, material, or body part.” This object, material, or body part – the specific thing that is fetishized – often needs to be present, incorporated, or at least thought of in order for the person to reach sexual satisfaction. A fetish is a type of paraphilia, which generally “means compulsively responding in a sexual way to an unusual or socially acceptable stimulus."
For this workshop, we focused specifically on BDSM. BDSM stands for a combination of acts and philosophies: Bondage and Discipline, Dominance and Submission, and Sadism and Masochism.
BDSM involves role-playing with the behaviors of dominance/submission and by receiving or inflicting pain, humiliation, restraint, and other un-equal power dynamics. This role-playing can be situational (called a session), or can be long term (sometimes playing a specific role 24/7). There are many roles a person can play, including a dominant/top/master/dominatrix (this person does the controlling) and a submissive/bottom/slave/brat (this person is the one being controlled).
The key to BDSM is that all parties must consent to all activities and rules decided by each person, so much so that the motto of the BDSM community is “Safe, Sane, and Consensual.” This means that activities must not cause unwanted or permanent harm, participants must be aware and sane to consent, and that all participants must consent.
Although many sexual acts (such as penetration) are included in BDSM play, not all play has to include them. Many activities like spanking, whipping, bondage, verbal degrading, etc don’t involve sexual activity.
We had some safety tips mentioned in our blog post about fetishes, but we’ll list them here again:
  • Do research on your specific fetish/paraphilia. What are the community’s philosophies? Do they provide support or resources on how to begin and how to be safe.
  • Be mindful of which communities (physical or virtual) you’re connecting with. If you feel like you’re in danger, that you cannot trust the people you’re with, or that they’re involved in illegal activities, you do not have to be a part of that group.
  • Establish rules of consent and safety with your sexual partners.  An example of this is using safewords. Safewords are specific words or phrases that are mutually agreed upon and used to let others know that we want to stop sexual activity. This is most commonly used in BDSM, where words like ‘stop’ or ‘no’ are not taken at face-value and are considered part of role-playing.
  • Be safe if you’re meeting someone from the internet. You can find great tips here.
What’s most important is that it be your choice to participate in BDSM activities if you want to, and that you are practicing them safely.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Valentine's Day Event - Something for Everybody!

SMART Youth will be hosting our annual Valentine's Day event this year. It is titled "Something for Everybody," and it is the finale to our Taboo Talks: Sex-R weekly workshops. 

There will be food, fun, and prizes! 
We hope you can join us! 

Please RSVP at by February 9th if possible. 

Event Details:Date: Friday, February 13th
Time: 6-8:30PM
Location: MCCNY Charities (446 West 36th street b/t 9th & 10th avenues)

See you there! Be ready to mingle!

[Taboo Talk IV] Sex-R: Inside Out – Pornography

Last week was our fourth workshop of our Taboo Talk series. Pornography was the topic of the week, and our Sex-R movie reference was the soon-to-be-released movie Inside Out.

Pornography is a complex topic that many people have different feelings about. In a previous blog post, we stated some of the good, bad, and ugly sides that porn can represent. During our meeting, we were able to hear these differing opinions about pornography directly from our youth.

We talked about the pros and cons of porn. Some pros included learning about what you like or don’t like sexually, using it as foreplay for masturbation or partner sex; while some cons included getting unrealistic expectations about what sex is or what our genitalia should look like.

The decision to watch pornography is a personal one. What’s important about these pros and cons is that it allows you to form your own opinions and make your own decisions about viewing pornography. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

[Taboo Talk III] Sex-R: Toy Story – Sex Toys

Last week was our third workshop of our Taboo Talk series. The topic of discussion was Sex Toys, so our Sex-R theme was Toy Story, naturally!

We've recently blogged about sex toys in the past, giving the 411 on what they are, their history, and how they can be used. Sex toys can be a great way to explore your own sexuality (re: masturbation), and can also be incorporated in many ways for sex with other people (foreplay, mutual masturbation, intercourse, etc)!

There’s no one way to use a sex toy. As long as the toy is being used safely and hygienically, sex toys can be used anywhere on the body that feels pleasurable. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

[Taboo Talk II] Sex-R: Finding Nemo – Masturbation

Two weeks ago, we had our second workshop for Taboo Talk series! This workshop was dedicated to the safest sex of them all: Masturbation, which is why our Sex-R theme was Finding Nemo.

Just so we're all on the same page, masturbation is the act of touching your own genitals for pleasure. We've talked and blogged in the past about how masturbation and self-exploration are common and healthy behaviors that help us learn about ourselves as sexual beings; yet we often find it awkward to talk about it…and when we do, it’s either in a joking way or in a shameful way. It’s hardly ever spoken about positively. We at SMART Youth want to change that!

Our guest facilitator, Melisa, led a discussion on how there are differences in the way masturbation is perceived based on many factors. Our participants told examples of how, depending on your gender and age, masturbation can be seen differently. When men are younger, masturbation is seen as something that every man does and cannot control. When women are younger, masturbation is seen as something that women just don’t do. As we get older, the societal perception changes and masturbation is seen as something that is done only when someone doesn’t have a sexual partner. We know that these are stereotypes and are NOT true! Not every man masturbates, and a lot of women do masturbate.

We also know that masturbation does not depend on having a sexual partner. Both people who are single or in relationships masturbate, and they’re equally okay! Plus, masturbation and mutual masturbation (when partners pleasure themselves in front of their partner or touch/rub their partners’ genitals for pleasure) can be part of foreplay and sex. If there is no transfer of fluids (or you’re following other precautions like using a barrier or washing hands), there is a suuuuper low risk for pregnancy or STI’s…making it the safest sex of them all!

You don’t only have to use your hands either. One can masturbate or do mutual masturbation with the aid of sex toys as well! We have an entire blog post and presentation dedicated to what sex toys are and how to use them.

One way we can reduce shame and start becoming more comfortable with talking about masturbation is to use better words to describe the act. Many of the phrases we use to describe masturbation include jerking off, diddle the skittle, or choke the monkey, which are either funny or sometimes violent. If instead we used more neutral and even more positive phrases like pleasuring yourself, fingering, or as one youth offered, happy time, it may make talking about masturbation a more positive and open topic!

Thank you to Melisa for taking the time out to facilitate such a fun and important meeting!