Happy Spring! Or is it still freezing cold where you are? Or already hot as summer? Regardless of the weather, spring is a great time for the birth of new ideas, approaches, and programming. Maybe something here will inspire you.

  • You might be working and living in the “stroke belt,” did you know? Eleven states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia) are designated as areas with incredibly high prevalence of stroke, and new research shows that teens living in these areas are at higher risk for having strokes when they are older. This means that encouraging healthy habits and the cessation of unhealthy ones that could contribute to strokes, like smoking and diet, should be emphasized. Have you done any health programming lately? Read a news report on the study here, or check out the full article in Neurology.
  • You might be hearing from parents of your young patrons that they are worried about how much time their kids spend sitting down, participating in activities like video gaming or watching television. Worries about sedentary screentime and its negative health effects are many, and they’re well-founded – lots of research recently has focused on how adults, teens, and children alike spend more hours sitting than ever before, and our future health could be compromised even if we do go to the gym a few times a week. So what to do about reading, which is a healthy activity that still requires sitting? Is it as bad as other sedentary behaviors? Well, it turns out that not all sedentary activities were created equal – while it is worrisome that children of today prefer chores to playing outside, it’s heartening to know that spending time reading or sitting quietly does not have as negative effect on overall health as screen time.
  • The new film “42” has opened, rekindling everyone’s interest in baseball, race, and, of course, the film’s subject – Jackie Robinson. In honor of the man who broke the baseball color line, consider doing a display that brings up black history or sports history outside of the context of February’s usual displays and programming or contemporary sports stars. Take a look at Colorlines’ report on Jackie Robinson for some background, and then create a display with materials on unsung heroes (in sports or in general), Canadian racial politics (Robinson began his career in Canadian leagues), or applying for scholarships (Robinson’s widow started a scholarship foundation).
  • Are you Sex+? What about your teens? The sex positivity movement is about just what you’d think – encouraging healthy relationships, owning your sexuality and your body, and making responsible choices that work for the person, not society. One of my favorite activists, Laci Green, has great examples of how to lighten up when it comes to conversations about sex – her tumblr has great posts, gifs and reblogs that make jokes about sex and relationships while also shedding light on gender politics, body image, and more (some of my favorites – NSFW: food>sex, tampon triumph, lesbian couple). What can you and your TAB do with that?
  • Want to encourage healthy habits for this coming summer? Appeal to vanity, not health. It turns out that teens are more likely to use sunscreen when encouraged to do so for aesthetic reasons than cancer-related ones. Researchers had subjects watch one of two videos and then assessed how much more often they used sunscreen. The ones who were told their skin would age prematurely with too much sun exposure used sunscreen more than those who learned about melanoma.
  • You’re used to hearing that media can have an affect on adolescent girls’ body image, but do you know the details? A study in the Journal of Communication looked at what types of media teen girls in Belgium consumed, and how much, and found that there were connections between media usage and self image, but more research is neded to determine exactly which types of media are most harmful.

What do you think? Are there any topics or subjects missing from this column you’d like to see addressed? What do you find most interesting?

About Hannah Gómez

School librarian in Northern California. MA children's literature, MS library and information science (Simmons College). Sometime scholar, sometime reviewer, sometime creative writer, always media-obsessed.

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