Chester County Medicine Winter 2020 - 23

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nternational Adolescent Health Week (IAHW)
will be celebrated from March 15-21, 2020 and
communities all over the world are planning to
spend this week focusing on the important work of
improving the health and well-being of adolescents.
This annual, global celebration consists of dynamic
participatory events to inspire adolescents and their
communities to advocate for a successful transition
into adulthood. With more than a billion adolescents
worldwide, this age group comprises one of the largest
segments of the world's population. The rapid physical
and emotional growth of this age group differentiate
it from the needs of children and adults; while
health behaviors resulting in illness later in life often start in the
adolescent years. The IAHW is unique in that it focuses the entire
world on a holistic view of adolescent health at the same time with
an independent, youth-centric week devoted to this important
chapter of life.
International Adolescent Health Week is the continued
growth and evolution of what started as Teen Health Week, which
was first celebrated as Pennsylvania Teen Health Week in 2016.
Teen Health Week was developed with a group of enthusiastic
Philadelphia-area teen advisors, the Pennsylvania Medical
Society, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the College
of Physicians of Philadelphia. This first of its kind observance
focused on the breadth of adolescent health grew rapidly to a
global celebration, thanks to numerous teens and adults, schools
and organizations, working together in their communities across
the globe.
The goals for Adolescent Health Week are to:
* Increase recognition of the unique health issues facing
adolescents worldwide by both adults and adolescents
* Increase engagement of adolescents in their own health
decisions
* Stimulate events worldwide highlighting issues facing
adolescents and ways to address them during International
Adolescent Health Week.
The theme for IAHW2020 is "Transforming Risk into
Wellness." Over the course of the week, activities may focus on
(but are not restricted to) these 3 overarching themes which are
broad enough to encompass most adolescent health issues:
* Holistic Well-Being (including the importance of healthy and
safe communities, socio-economic determinants of health, and
adolescents' rights)
* Healthy Lifestyle (including preventive health, vaccines,
sexual health, substance use and abuse, nutrition and fitness)

* Resilience (including mental health, and skills to help
adolescents adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy,
threats or significant sources of stress).
30 years ago, the 190 member countries of the United Nation
passed the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC),
one of the most ratified human rights treaties of all time. The
UNCRC embodies the profound notion that children are not just
objects who belong to their parents, and for whom decisions are
made, but are human beings with their own inherent rights. It
provides an internationally ratified framework for how adolescent
health professionals engage and work with young people and
their families. The UNCRC underpins how adolescent health
professionals engage and work with young people, as it recognizes
the growing maturity of children and adolescents to make
independent choices and judgements on matters affecting their
future - including their health. In the absence of national laws
that support adolescents' rights to health in many countries, health
professionals invoke the UNCRC to protect the rights to health
of the adolescents with whom they work, and to protect them in
delivering health care to young people. Many individuals and
organizations including the Society for Adolescent Health and
Medicine and the International Association of Adolescent Health
celebrated the 30th anniversary of the UNCRC, knowing that
child and adolescent rights lie at the core of ensuring that no one
is left behind in the progress towards achieving the Sustainable
Development Goals. Only the United States has not ratified this
framework for the protection of children's rights which protect
children from traumas such as forced labor, discrimination and
child marriage, and which grant all children the right to health
care and education. IAHW is an opportunity to demonstrate to
young people how international protections like these can enhance
their ability to advocate for themselves when it comes to health.
Schools, medical practices and other organizations working
with or for adolescents can celebrate any aspect of adolescent
health that is relevant to their work, for instance: a short
presentation on healthy relationships during the school assembly
continued on next page >
WINTER 2020 | CHESTER COUNT Y Medicine 23


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Chester County Medicine Winter 2020

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