YMR Conclusion Celebration!

After three years of planning and conducting research with young mothers on the disparity in breastfeeding rates between young and older mothers here in the Bay Area, we hosted a celebration to share our findings with the community that was a great success! We had community members from all over the Bay come out to check out what we’ve been up to these past three years. First, we indulged in some delicious Mediterranean food from Oasis Grill. Shout out to them for all those great flavors they brought to the table! Next, we did a little mix and mingling before we jumped into the presentation of our findings. Thanks to the Domain Apartments right across from Preservation Park for providing an open and laid-back atmosphere for our event! The heart of the event was our presentation which was presented by our research team and Co-PI’s. Each presenter did a great job presenting the pieces to the puzzle in a way that was engaging and grabbed the audience’s attention. Awards and beautiful flowers were presented to everyone on the research team and our wonderful volunteer Advisory Committee as a thank you for the time and hard work they put into this project. Last but not least, we had fun playing a game called “Multi-tasking Mama” - it was indeed a great way to end the night! 


Stand up for Dreamers

Nearly 200,000 of the 800,000 Dreamers, or young people that are recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, live in California.

Ending DACA is counter to what we at the California Adolescent Health Collaborative (CAHC) value and so CAHC stands alongside DACA Dreamers and all immigrant communities as this program is under attack. As an organization that promotes and advocates for the rights of our state's most vulnerable youth, CAHC is deeply concerned with the impacts ending DACA will have on Dreamers and their families - their access to health care, education and jobs, all critical to the health and wellness of young people and their communities, would be impacted and this is unacceptable. 

The criminalization and deportation of young people that had no choice in the matter when it came to their arrival in the U.S. (the average age of Dreamers when they arrived is six years old), and have known no other country besides the U.S., is unconscionable. We must continue to fight for our nation’s most vulnerable populations in the same way we did when the Affordable Care Act came under attack. 

Mary Pittman, CEO of the Public Health Institute, describes the criminalization of undocumented immigrants as a public health issue. Please check out her full statement on the PHI website:

"America is a nation of immigrants, and the Public Health Institute stands with each of them, regardless of immigration status. PHI decries, in the strongest of terms, the federal administration’s misguided call to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program."



Happy Young Parents Day!

Today is the second annual publicly recognized day to honor and appreciate young parents in California, and New Mexico. HAPPY YOUNG PARENTS DAY!

As a former young mother myself, it is exciting to see this day exist, and in addition to honoring young parents everywhere, I want to honor the young parent advocates and their allies who have made this possible. This symbolic recognition signifies a move away from blame, stigma and shame to support, appreciation and recognition.

As a public health practitioner, it is incumbent upon me and my colleagues to examine our field and question assumptions. Some corners of the public health world still need to be disabused of the notion that teen pregnancy is a causal link in the cycle of poverty. 

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While the research arm of public health has long acknowledged this thinking is flawed, too many still operate under the assumption that childbearing is a public health problem.

The International Epidemiological Association has been clear since 2002: “We do not agree that teenage pregnancy is shameful, nor do we believe that teenage pregnancy is (or is best conceptualized as) a public health problem; however, we do believe that the accumulative effect of social and economic exclusion on the health of mothers and their babies, whatever their age, is.” 

They elaborate:

“… opportunities, support, and services should be available to women regardless of their age and regardless of whether or not they have children. Provision should suit and support the reality of women’s lives, rather than limit their opportunities and choices unless they organize their reproduction in a socially acceptable way.  Changing society’s attitude towards young women and their reproductive choices may facilitate better opportunities and support, labeling them as a public health problem is unlikely to… Concerted efforts to reduce poverty and inequalities- a clear public health threat- for women and men of all ages is clearly where public health policy should be focused.” 1 (pp558-559)

As people who are in the business of preventing disease and injury, we have no business trafficking in shame and stigma. One would think that lesson had been learned, but recent “public health” campaigns against teen parents and their progeny, along with persistent stigmatizing terminology (teenage pregnancy prevention—as though it is a disease), reveal that there is more work yet to be done.

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CAHC is so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with some fearless young mamas who are engaging in that labor on the regular. Bre’Jaynae Joiner, CAHC research associate, has recently returned to our team to support two of our projects, H-REP and YMR. She juggles this work with her school, parenting, and family duties with grace and strength.

We are also so pleased to work with Natasha Vianna, and the amazing collective #NoTeenShame on collaborative projects that we are currently dreaming up. Please check out their website for lots more information on how to support young parents, how to fight the stigma against them, and a video of a teach-in to learn more about the issue.

-Alison Chopel, CAHC Director



CAHC stands with PHI and young leaders working to fight against white supremacy and racism

CAHC Director Alison Chopel writes about recent events in #Charlottesville and beyond, and how and why CAHC and PHI stand against white supremacy and racism as a public health issue. 

Racism pervades our lives on a daily basis, and as a program that serves youth and communities of color, we must do our best to confront it, and especially to support the young leaders who fight against hatred in their communities. A first step is to speak out against it. White supremacist groups are not “just” racist—they are known terrorists and they engage in both psychological and physical violence. They injure people and communities. When they are permitted to gather and demonstrate in public, they are engaging in recruitment efforts, and targeting adolescents, many of whom have multiple reasons to be angry and to feel isolated and disenfranchised.

Christian Piccolini, founder of Life After Hate, in an interview with Amy Goodman, described this process:

“I’m a firm believer that ideology isn’t what radicalizes people. I think it’s the search for identity, community and a sense of purpose. And if there’s some sort of brokenness, a void underneath that in your life—and it could be trauma or addiction or mental health issues, anything that would hold you back or deviate your path from the intended one that you were on—you tend to look for acceptance in negative pathways.”

This is why the work that CAHC, our partners and other youth development organizations do across the country is essential to the health of our national psyche. 

Mary Pittman, CEO of the Public Health Institute, describes the connection between health and racism. Please check out her full statement on the PHI website:  

"The social determinants of health are foundational to public health work, as research shows that the conditions that surround us shape and influence our health. And the evidence points to one particularly powerful set of social determinants: racism and other forms of oppression. Systemic racism (such as policies that intentionally lock people of color out of housing or business loans), and individual racism (like targeted hate crimes), have deep and long lasting impacts on individual health and equity and broader societal illness. Racism has been linked to physical conditions like higher blood pressure—even among teens—and other stress-related illnesses, as our ACES research has also confirmed. From a public health perspective, racism and oppression can be deadly.”