Why is it so important for teens to take ownership of their health and wellness? Dr. Chinwe Efuribe, adolescent medicine specialist for Lone Star Personal Care, explains how a comprehensive approach to adolescent health empowers teens to make lifestyle decisions that will benefit them.
She has built a youth clinic that focuses on adolescent medicine that draws on her experiences in community with her clinical work.
Watch the full interview here:
What have you learned from building your clinic?
Healthy youth development requires more than just traditional health services. It involves promoting health for young people in all areas: biological, mental, and social. I wanted to incorporate positive youth development into the health setting.
We had a group of group of youth who contributed to the clinic from the beginning. I was adamant that I could not build a youth clinic without having young people at the table. Anything for youth requires their input. We consulted with them on everything.
This clinic builds autonomy for adolescents and helps them develop key skills for life.
Giving kids control of their health and wellness can cause growing pains for parents, but that control is an important milestone for teens. We need to think about who we want them to become in the future. They need positive health role models who help them make positive health decisions. Teens are the only ones who have the power to change how their future is, so letting them take control of part of their life while their parents are still in it will help them become a more stable and healthier adult.
We want them to make healthy lifestyle choices as teenagers about exercise, diet, and mood. What better way to get them to start thinking that they have the power to change how their future is at least how it relates to their body, to their mind, and their interaction with others.
We made the space feel physically and emotionally safe for them. We wanted them to feel welcome, that someone thought about you, and that the things they need will be there. So we asked them what would help them take ownership of their visits. We wanted a warm environment that wasn’t filled with toys that they had outgrown. We got youth friendly furniture and some artwork by teens. Teens also have a need for privacy so we got white noise machines to block out noise when they check in. Often times they come to the clinic under one pretense but there is something else going on that they need help with. We got youth friendly reading material and phone-charging stations.
What do you want parents to know about teens?
Teens are always watching and modeling, whether you know it or not. They are always looking for safe spaces and will talk if they feel safe. When dealing with your teen, offer them more patience than you think they need; everyone develops along at a different pace.