Category Archives: Teen

Boston Public Schools Wins Free Meals Grant

Breakfast is considered to be the most important meal of the day, particularly for school-aged children. Unfortunately many children do not have access to a healthy breakfast because of limited income or a time-restricted morning. Luckily for schoolchildren attending Boston Public Schools, access to breakfast has not only become possible – it is free during the entire summer.

Thanks to a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Education and sponsorships from the USDA Summer Food Service Program for Children, Project Bread and the Boston Public Schools Department of Food and Nutrition Services free breakfast and lunch will be provided to attending children 18 years of age and under without regard to income, race, color, national origin, sex, age or handicap from July 1, 2013 to August 30, 2013.

Participating sites not only include schools, but many community centers, churches and summer camps. For a full listing of all participating sites and operating hours please call Project Bread’s Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 or visit this website for more.

Are there other summer programs you would like to see the School Committee or Department of Education invest in? Comment below to share your opinion! 

Plan B

FDA Approves Lifting Age Restriction for Morning-After Pill

Teva’s Plan B One-Step®, a one-pill emergency contraceptive sometimes referred to as the morning-after pill, is finally going over-the-counter for all ages. On Thursday, June 20, 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved unrestricted sales of Plan B One-Step®, lifting all age restrictions on the name-brand pill. However, the two-pill version remains available to girls younger than 17 only by prescription.

Even though the lengthy legal and political battle is over, currently both forms of the product  are still being sold behind the pharmacy counter and with the 17 and over age restriction. There is still work to be done before we see the product in the aisles. Teva Women’s Health, the manufacturer of Plan B One-Step® is currently the only manufacturer who has stepped forward to challenge the age restriction. Teva will need to ship the products with new packaging before pharmacies are able to place the product on aisle shelves.

Plan B One-Step® must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex or birth control failure but the sooner it is taken the better it works. It is just one single-dose pill  that contains high doses of the hormone levonorgestrel, a type of progestin used in many birth control pills, and it works in a similar way.  Plan B One-Step can be more expensive, costing the consumer upwards of $50. However, the manufacturer has ensured consumers that it will continue to provide subsidized versions of the pill to local health clinics for patients who may need a more affordable alternative.

Although it is considered an effective birth control option, Plan B One-Step may also cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, headache, and fatigue. Most of the side effects only affect less than half of people taking it, with nausea being the most common. Although similar to standard daily birth control pills, physicians do not recommend Plan B One-Step® as a regularly used contraceptive. Plan B One-Step® is not RU-486, an abortion pill, and it will not work if already pregnant. It also does not protect against HIV or any other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

For more information on the pill, including the nearest pharmacy locations and frequently asked questions, visit the Plan B One-Step® official website.


Boston School Committee Ends the School Year with a Wellness Policy Overhaul

At a routine meeting Wednesday, June 19th, the Boston School Committee voted 5-0 (with one member abstaining) to implement a new wellness policy that will ensure increased health and well-being to both the staff and students of all 135 of Boston’s public schools. The most circulated portion of this policy thus far has been the decision to provide the students of all of Boston’s 23 public high schools with condoms. Joining the ranks of school districts like New York and Philadelphia, Boston will now make condoms accessible to every public high school student, unless a parent or guardian opts them out of the program in the standard paperwork given out at the beginning of each school year.

Rather than simply providing the condoms no-questions-asked, a student will be required to talk with a nurse or clinic employee before receiving them to ensure that he or she understands how they are used and how to remain safe. Although teen pregnancy rates in Boston are lower than the national average and overall on the decline, the School Committee and those speaking in favor of the policy’s expansion cite the high rates of chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases among 15 to 19 year olds as a key concern.

Although by far the most widely reported change in the policy, the six-page report details a number of crucial health initiatives that will undoubtedly make the Boston Public School system a more inclusive and supportive community. As stated in the “Safe and Supportive Schools” section, the policy seeks to address “social health, emotional health, mental health, behavioral health, physical health, suicide prevention, safe inclusion climates for LGBTQ students, violence prevention, including intimate partner violence, sexual harassment & assault prevention, bullying & cyber bullying prevention, emergency preparedness, school safety, substance use, and
pregnant and parenting students.”

The policy will address issues of crucial concern to Boston youth, such as bullying, LGBTQ inclusion and violence prevention; these issues are often ignored by other school districts. As Superintendent Carol Johnson stated, healthy students are better students. By focusing on making the school system a safe, healthy, inclusive, and welcoming environment, students will be free to focus on their schoolwork and educational development and have reprieve from issues like violence, discrimination, and mental health.

The wellness policy will be achieved by implementing the Comprehensive Behavioral Health Model, a Boston Public School program which includes community partners specializing in mental health as well as the Boston Public Health Commission. It promotes both a school and district-wide prevention and education initiative as well as provisions for crisis intervention, oneon-one counseling, and “case-specific parental training.” Should it prove effective, this health policy, including its emphasis on inclusive sexual health education, could serve as a model for school districts throughout the nation and increase achievement in the Boston Public Schools.

Further reading:
1.Full draft of the District Wellness Policy
2. Comprehensive Behavioral Health Model website
3. “Condoms & Counseling: Improved Sexual Education for Boston Public Schools,” Caroline Lyle
4. “Boston Public Schools Will Distribute Condoms in All High Schools,” Susan Jones
5. “Condoms Now Available At Your Local High School,” Melissa Malamut