Chicago high school junior Jessica Tansey was concerned about her classmates whose families would struggle with food insecurity during the school closure for COVID-19. At the same time, she was concerned about the restaurants in her neighborhood and the negative effect the COVID-19 shutdowns were having on them. She came up with and launched a campaign called “A Meal Today, A Meal Tomorrow” to help with both community issues.
It works by a customer buying one gift card at a nearby restaurant, and the restaurant agreeing to donate a second gift card to Tansey’s high school, which is then given to a school family in need. While some of the larger restaurant chains are able to commit to matching gift cards dollar-for-dollar, many smaller restaurants are donating gift cards worth a percentage of the one purchased to help out. Tansey said, “If we can connect restaurants and students with one solution, maybe it can make a difference for everybody. I want to get all of us thinking about how to bring communities together to support each other during rough times.”
One of the most important tips for protecting yourself from COVID-19 is to wash your hands for 20 seconds, or as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. British teen William Gibson decided he wanted the public to have more song options while fighting the spread of coronavirus.
Gibson created an online tool that allows a user to enter the title of their chosen song and artist to automatically generate a poster. The poster matches lyrics from the song to a 13-step washing routine. The UK’s NHS Health Secretary Matt Hancock has publically praised Gibson’s initiative as the posters have been shared extensively on social media. Gibson thought it would be popular, but has still been surprised to see some of his favorite celebrities posting about it. Visit the Wash Your Lyrics website to create your own poster for washing hands with your favorite song.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. In December 2019, large numbers of people in Wuhan, China, became ill. At first, doctors thought the patients had severe cases of pneumonia. In January 2020, public health officials identified the mysterious illness as a new coronavirus. It was named “Coronavirus Disease 2019,” or COVID-19. The symptoms are similar to the flu, but can become more serious. As more COVID-19 outbreaks are reported, including in the U.S. and Canada, it’s extremely important to stay calm, be informed, and take steps to protect yourself and others.
While there is currently no vaccine against COVID-19, there are things you can do to take care of your health. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice). Dry your hands thoroughly after washing them. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that are commonly used by people can help, too. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a list of approved disinfectants to help protect against the spread of COVID-19 on its website.
A recent study published by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found a connection between school start times and teen driving accidents. The study found that pushing a 7:20 a.m. start to an 8:10 a.m. start significantly reduced the crash rate of 16– to 18–year–old drivers in the area. According to the researchers, teens who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to make poor decisions—such as distracted driving or forgetting to wear a seat belt.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has been advocating for middle and high school start times of 8:30 a.m. or later to help promote teen safety, health, and academic performance. The AASM recommends teens get 8 to 10 hours of sleep a day. By getting enough sleep, teens are more alert in the classroom, are less tardy or absent, have better mental health, and have improved safety habits while driving.
A new study released by researchers from the United Kingdom found that for every extra hour a teen spent inactive, there was an eight percent to 11 percent increase in depression later in life. However, there was some good news in the report as well. If a teen increased their physical activity, even just by one hour, it cut their risk of depression by about ten percent. A teen that increased their physical activity by two hours cut the risk by 20 percent.
The researchers also found that just light to moderate physical activity could do the trick. Everyday things like walking at school or home, running errands, and even standing to talk to someone can make a difference. If you feel you should increase your physical activity for your own mental health, try having stretch breaks, always take the stairs, do a few chores, play an instrument, or even just stand at a desk while doing your homework.
While the outbreak of a new strain of coronavirus in China is making headlines, your risk of contracting it in the U.S. is very low. Right now, the influenza or flu virus is far more active in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that over 15 million people in the U.S. have been sick with the flu this season. Over 150,000 people have been hospitalized, and at least 8,000 people have died. On average, the flu is responsible for between 12,000 and 61,000 deaths each year.
The flu shot is the best way to protect yourself against getting the flu, but there’s another extremely effective way to fend off the flu virus and help protect yourself against other viruses and illnesses: wash your hands! The CDC says you should lather up and wash your hands with warm water for at least 20 seconds several times a day to protect yourself. Hands are the main way viruses are transmitted. Outside of inhaling airborne particles from someone else’s cough or sneeze, touching your hand to a contaminated surface and then to your eyes, nose, or mouth is the most common way a virus gets inside you.
Fire season in Australia is always dangerous, however, this year’s drought conditions have been unusually severe. There have been wildfires in every Australian state, with New South Wales being hit the hardest. The blazes have torn through bushland, wooded areas, and national parks. Cities and neighborhoods have also been impacted. In total, more than 17.9 million acres (7.3 million ha) have burned across Australia. At least a half a billion animals have been affected by the fires, including birds, reptiles, and mammals.
Australian authorities are working to combat the fire crisis with more than 2,000 firefighters and military support. The United States, Canada, and New Zealand have sent additional firefighters to help Australians battle the fires. Since Australia is only about halfway through its summer season, the country could still be months away from ending the fires and finding relief. Multiple organizations are collecting donations to help both the people and animals devastated by the fires.
Some high schools in Tempe, Arizona, now have mindfulness rooms—a place for students to take time to reflect and reset. The rooms exist to help teens cope with stressors such as anxiety, peer pressure, testing, social media, and much more. Some of teens’ biggest reasons for using the mindfulness room at one school are to find relief from stress, anxiety, and pressure.
According to Tempe high school social worker Lauri Pagano, mindfulness room sessions can provide students with a healthy coping mechanism in the way of mindfulness. Pagano says, “Mindfulness helps with allowing us that moment to disconnect, to be at ease with quiet and peace within ourselves, just shut out the noise for a little while.”