Teen Health Week

Dr. Jennifer Bateman, National VP of Youth Development for Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Dr. Laura Herrerra Scott VP of Medicaid Clinical Operations for Anthem, talk about the health program “Triple Play” that focuses on developing a youth’s mind, body and soul.   

Dr. Jennifer Bateman is the National Vice President for Health, Wellness & Gender for Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In this role, Bateman drives the health and wellness agenda for BGCA and leads efforts designed to foster holistic well-being in youth including physical health, nutrition, mental and emotional wellness and access to preventive care. She has a Ph.D. in Applied Psychology and Human Development from the University of Pennsylvania and a M.Ed. in Developmental Psychology from Harvard University.

Laura Herrera Scott, M.D., M.P.H, is the VP of Medicaid Clinical Operations for Anthem. In this position, Dr. Herrera Scott, is responsible for overseeing the administration of medical services for the company’s Medicaid health plans and the development and implementation of activities designed to improve patient outcomes. She received her MD from SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn and her MPH from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.


Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard,  thank you so much for joining us once again. Well it’s Teen Health Week, it’s a global initiative which encourages teens to take charge of their physical and mental health by facilitating healthy habits throughout their lives. Now Boys and Girls Clubs of America have always been committed to teaching teens to take charge of their personal health through programs like Triple Play. Now that program focuses on developing the mind, body and soul of our youth. Now in 2010, the Anthem Foundation became a co-sponsor of this program. Joining us today on Health Professional Radio to share some health tips for teens during Teen Health Week are Dr. Jennifer Bateman from the Boys & Girls Club of America and Dr. Laura Scott from the Anthem Foundation. Thank you both for joining us here on Health Professional Radio.

Dr. Jennifer Bateman: Good morning.

Dr. Laura Scott: Good Morning.

Neal: Well could you tell us about this Triple Play Program? How does it help improve teens’ overall well-being?

Dr Bateman: Absolutely. The Triple Play Program, thanks to the support from the Anthem Foundation, is our largest health and wellness program. It serves young people ages 6 to 18 in our 4,300 Boys and Girls Club sites and it works on building three different sets of skills and one of them is physical activity skills and the confidence and competence to stay active, healthy eating skills and health literacy to make healthy decisions and most critically the social and emotional skills that underscore all of these domains of health and wellness and allow people to make decisions, make responsible decisions throughout the course of their lives.

Neal: Lots of activity when you are a teen. Talk about how their health is impacting their daily lives, I mean lots of kids are on their phones, in front of a computer, not outside playing and doing things like that.

Dr Bateman: Absolutely.

Dr Scott: Correct and so they are spending more and more screen time and some of it is needed such as activities related to school and learning but some of it especially that screen time that’s related to social media is really impacting them in a way that we haven’t seen in prior generations and so working with our teams to encourage them to engage with their peers outside or face-to-face, not just relying on social media to connect with their friends, getting them to participate in activities – whether that’s organized team sports through their schools or through  their community or through the Boys and Girls Club of America – as well as healthy eating lifestyles and parents can encourage those behaviors by engaging your kids in meal preparation or finding an activity that your kid likes to participate in and getting them involved.

Neal: We’re hearing a lot about bullying, about social media bullying, screen overload – what is your take on encouraging kids who just can’t seem to get away from the screen to use social media in some of those positive ways that you’re talking about? Even if they’re not going to be face-to-face as much as you like them to be.

Dr Bateman: Absolutely and you just said something really important, which is we can’t ask young people to neglect social media altogether. It’s the big point of connection for them and for building and maintaining friendships, it’s really teaching them the skills to navigate social media in ways that make them feel good about themselves. So for example, to identify content or connections that don’t make them feel good about themselves or elevate social-comparison issues and being able to monitor how they’re engaged with those and to the extent like tracking,  using many of the tools that are available to set goals for tracking their own time and “Here’s how much I can beyond today and here’s my goal for today.” So we want to limit the screen time a bit but we also want to teach them to use it responsibly.

Neal: Is there a big focus on teens sticking together as teens and kind of letting the adults do what the adults do and the teens stick to what they do? Or is there kind of a learning from each other, teens learning from adults and adults learn from teens?

Dr Bateman: I think it’s both. In Boys and Girls Clubs we really focus on ensuring that all young people are building a sense of belonging, connection with adults is just as important connection with peers. I know that Dr. Scott does a lot of activities with her own teens that really focus on bouncing these.

Dr Scott: Yeah, I would say you want a balance, right, because that’s the primary way that young adults are interacting with their peers but as parents, you can set limits on that social media time so they are engaging socially so maybe that’s having structured dinnertime. In our household, dinner is a sacred time for the family just to catch up on everybody’s day and that happens Sunday through Thursday. I have a 16 and 18 year old so Friday and Saturday is their time to just be with their friends but Sunday through Thursday, there is an expectation that there are no phones at the dinner table and that we’re talking about their day and what’s happening or sports or whatever they’re feeling and it really gives them the opportunity to get a break from that social media as well as engage with us and us as parents to learn about what their days have been like.

Dr Bateman: Also considering ways to use social media to be physically active, there are more and more connected opportunities to do a guided meditation together, go for a walk or engage in a class online together too so that can also be a gateway to work towards ongoing physical activity.

Neal: An opportunity for parents to learn as well as teens. Talk about some of the rewards that we as adults get from taking the time and paying attention to our teens rather than just letting them sit in front of the computer and be babysat as it were by technology.

Dr Bateman: Absolutely. One thing that Dr. Scott said that was really important was that at the dinner table, it’s not just about the time together but that’s the time to have those types of conversations as well. So it’s both that connection time and learning those skills then that help young people monitor for themselves and navigate media successfully.

Dr Scott: Yeah and just listening to  them and giving them the opportunity to just talk about their days. You’ll learn a lot from social dynamics among their peers in school, from social dynamics among their peers on social media which may not be in their school depending on activities outside of school they participated. Whether they had a good day and why and whether they had a bad day and why so it really is an opportunity to learn more about your peer, your teens and the peers that they spend their time with.

Neal: You’ve got this structured life, you’re in school, maybe you’re a freshman in college, you’ve got a structure but come spring break, all rules are off. How do you talk to teens about keeping things together during those times when traditionally ‘break the rules and hopefully you make it back.’

Dr Bateman: One way is to work with your teen about setting goals for themselves. Some things that I’ve seen families do really well or teens do for themselves is to set physical activity goals. Spring Break offers a great opportunity to try something new so maybe it’s seven days of physical activity and then you earn a badge for meeting that … goal, maybe if I’m going to eat a healthy lunch every day and I’m setting that goal for myself and then I’m giving myself a reward for doing that. That’s something that parents can do with kids, they can model it for them, they can do it together and young people can also do for themselves.

Neal: Where can our listeners go and learn more so that they can get involved with their teens?

Dr Bateman: You can learn more about Teens Health Week, our partnership with the Anthem Foundation and Boys and Girls Clubs of America at www.bgca.org and you can also find a local club.

Neal: Dr. Bateman, Dr. Scott, thank you both for joining us here on Health Professional Radio,  it’s been a pleasure.

Dr Bateman: Thank you so much.

Dr Scott: Thank you.

Neal: You’ve been listening the Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at hpr.fm and healthprofessionalradio.com.au


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