"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
Earlier today, we observed the poster pictured above in the snack area of the Carver Branch of the Austin Public Libraries; a closer look at the bottom right corner of the above picture reveals this poster to be an intitiative of the Austin Healthy Adolescent Initiative:
Now who, pray tell, is the Austin Healthy Adolescent Initiative?!?
Welcome to the Austin Healthy Adolescent (AHA) Program. The AHA Program is a grant-funded project within the Austin/ Travis County Health and Human Services Department and consists of a diverse leadership group, a learning community and several priority projects designed to improve our community to promote adolescent health.Well that's a bunch of useless government-speak, but a quick look at "the Team" reveals:
Jennifer Orlando - Planned ParenthoodOr, if you'd prefer a screenshot:
Then you get to the history of this program:
If you’re a parent, you know what it’s like to try to separate your teen from social media; sometimes it seems that the cellphone has become another appendage, while connecting through sites like Facebook and text messaging can seem necessary for life itself. Social events, for example, get planned through Facebook and what teen doesn’t text home to arrange for rides? YouTube is the go-to place for everything from entertaining videos to replaying scenes from games or school performances. But that digital world is not always a healthy one for kids—national and international news can sometimes be frightening, kids may witness bullying, and there’s the constant stress of who’s “friending” (or “unfriending”) you. Imagine harnessing that connectivity with an eye towards empowering those plugged-in kids while improving their social and emotional wellbeing. Welcome to the Austin Healthy Adolescent Initiative powered by the PlumbBrain project!And they're TOTALLY working in our local government schools:
Physical, emotional, and mental health are tied together in young people, explains Nikki Trevino, program coordinator of the City of Austin’s Healthy Adolescent Initiative (AHAI). Trevino used to be the coordinator for Safe Routes, a group that encourages kids to walk and ride to school. “Why didn’t people walk to school? It comes down to fear of their neighborhood,” says Trevino. “It’s real empowerment for community people to do things to keep themselves and their children healthy.” Walking or riding together as a group to and from school took away the fear and also provided those families with an additional 20 or so minutes of exercise and togetherness that had been missing.
It’s no surprise that Trevino found a passionate calling to put together AHAI. As program coordinator, she’s the bridge between the City of Austin and PlumbBrain, a new social media project developed by OneSeventeen Media. The AHAI program vision is that kids are “active decision makers and fully engaged in improving their communities.” The mission is to empower adolescents (ages 13-19) and engage them as partners with adults, leading to collaboration across the community as they advocate for positive changes in their lives. For some kids, that could mean escaping abuse or need; for others it could be as simple as finding an accepting group and feeling better about themselves.
A “perfect storm” of conditions led to this partnership between the nonprofit and public sectors. When the economy took a turn for the worse, several groups, all linked through a broader concept, collaborated to conserve resources and make the most effective use of funds. Trevino secured a grant from the Texas Department of State Health Services for a project with the City of Austin. Rather than launch a topic-driven initiative (for example: drug prevention or teen pregnancy), AHAI is, in Trevino’s words, “holistically” focused. There are more than a dozen youth-serving nonprofits who collaborate under the AHAI umbrella, several of which are the “biggest players” in the Austin service community. Most offer something slightly different: for example, SafePlace focuses on victims of rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence; LifeWorks helps homeless youth achieve self-sufficiency with a goal to avoid depending on social services; and Planned Parenthood provides health services for those who may not be able to afford such care elsewhere. The question became, how best to distribute all the information that these combined services provide for young people via a method that these kids could easily navigate on their own?
PlumbBrain’s new social media site will be a safe domain for kids to search for information about a broad range of topics as well as reach out to peers and supportive adults. The participating nonprofits can guide kids towards the service, which is accessed anonymously. There students can access factual information, post socially, and make connections while being guided towards helpful social services. Instead of, for example, hopping a bus and going across town to multiple agencies to fill out paperwork, these kids can take control, seek answers, and get help with their problems online through the various partnered non-profits—a level of control that teens repeatedly stressed a desire for in feedback to Looper and Carls.
he Department of SEL has presented to the city-county-district collaborative. The department collaborates with the Office of Learning Support Services and Educator Quality on a regular basis. SEL is an active participant in the district’s Whole Child, Every Child initiative, and AHA! (The Austin Healthy Adolescent Program).A Planned Parenthood linked text messaging service using our tax dollars to offer anonymous "sexual health" advice to middle school age kids...what could possibly go wrong?!?