On September 18, 2020, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away after complications from her battle with pancreatic cancer. Ginsburg was a prominent figure in the United States as a legal, cultural, and feminist icon. After years of participating in the legal fight for women’s rights during the 1970s, Ginsburg eventually went on to serve 27 years on the nation’s highest court — the Supreme Court.
Ginsburg was nominated for the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993. At the time, she was the second woman ever to serve on the court. She was named one of Forbes magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women from 2004 through 2011. The current Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said, “Our nation has lost a justice of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her, a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”
When 15-year-old Josh Turnyak thought that he was getting a decent night’s sleep but kept waking up groggy, he decided to figure out why. He learned that you should aim to get five to six REM sleep cycles during the night. A REM sleep cycle consists of about 90 minutes of deep sleep. He also learned that it takes between 10 and 20 minutes for the average person to fall asleep. While every age group needs a different amount of hours of sleep at night, teens typically should get about 8–10 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.
Turnyak took this information and turned it into the Bed Time Calculator found at sleepsources.com. Simply input what time you need to get up and it will tell you up to three different bedtimes to try to fall asleep at and get your REM sleep cycles in. Ternyak says, “I built this calculator to help people wake up feeling energized. I hope the tool I built helps you wake up feeling more refreshed.” Research has shown that a good night’s sleep contributes to less stress, better grades, and overall health benefits for teens.
On August 10, 2020, the U.S. state of Iowa recorded its highest wind gust (non-tornadic) in state history during a derecho. A derecho is a line of intense, fast-moving windstorms that moves across a large distance and has damaging winds. The derecho in Iowa reached a record 140 mph (225 kph) in Cedar Rapids, according to the National Weather Service. The straight-line winds were considered equivalent to the winds from an EF3 tornado. The derecho destroyed buildings, crops, and caused injuries and deaths. The storm knocked out power to over 400,000 Iowans, and 75,000 were still without power one week later.
Some natural disasters like the derecho in Iowa can strike without warning. It is important to make a plan now, so you will know what to do, how to find the members of your family, and how to communicate during an emergency. An emergency supply kit will also help prepare you for a natural disaster.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors and researchers were already battling a different health crisis—teen vaping. Just last year, over five million middle school and high school students reported using e-cigarettes. Doctors saw many lung-related issues amongst vaping patients. When COVID-19 started spreading, they were concerned about the consequences for teens that were addicted to vaping.
In August 2020, researchers released a study at Stanford University School of Medicine confirming that vaping is not just a small risk for COVID-19. Their study found that among teens and young adults who were tested, those who had used e-cigarettes were five to seven times more likely to be infected than non-users. While researchers expected to find some elevated risk to vaping, the statistics showed a much higher risk than they had anticipated. While more research is needed to understand the relationship between vaping and COVID-19, the risk is clear. According to the study, researchers believe vaping is no longer a personal risk, but also a public health risk.
California teen Sasha Ronaghi thought that maybe 15 people would respond to her idea of starting an Anti-Racism Education Project (ARE) on Instagram. In less than five days, she had 350 participants. Now Ronaghi has more than 470 participants and 115 organizers from 38 states and 16 countries. Ronaghi describes the ARE Project as a community “to connect teenagers — young people in high schools and colleges — with resources about raising awareness for the black community.”
The group is planning to create a content list every month that consists of a movie, podcast, article, and other mediums. The group will meet to discuss the content and amplify black voices throughout the month with a speaker series, too. Ronaghi attributes the immediate success of the club to three things — the rhetoric of education surrounding conversations on racism, COVID-19 forcing many teens to stay home, and the desire for dialogue. She hopes that participants will use their new knowledge to be advocates in spreading awareness in their communities and to step up in conversations.
In June 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling for LGBTQ+ rights. The court ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act — which bans workplace discrimination based on sex, race, and religion — also applies to sexual orientation. Prior to this decision, it was legal in a majority of states for employees to be fired for being gay, bisexual, or transgender.
For many LGBTQ+ Americans, this is being celebrated as a major victory. Many are comparing it to the 2015 Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage. However, some activists believe it is just one positive step in an ongoing effort that still has a long way to go. While the current ruling will provide them with legal protections from discrimination in the workplace, the hope is this will set a precedent for future LGBTQ+ rights in education, housing, government services, and other areas.
On June 4, more than 10,000 people marched through the city of Nashville, Tennessee, in what The Tennessean called the area’s “largest protest against racism and police brutality in recent memory.” The march was organized by a group of six teenage girls that connected on social media and were ready to change the world.
Zee Thomas, Jade Fuller, Nya Collins, Emma Rose Smith, Kennedy Green, and Mikayla Smith launched Teens4Equality before ever meeting in person. The girls met for the first time on the morning of the protest. Prior to marching each girl took a moment to address the crowd and to explain what the protest meant to them. The protest lasted about five hours and was entirely peaceful. Teens4Equality is currently planning a protest on the Fourth of July to encourage participation in the voting process and to provide voter registration for attendees.