December 5, 2012

Tallahassee, FL —Last week the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation that doctors provide advance prescriptions for emergency contraceptives to teenage girls sparked another wave in the debate of accessibility to contraceptives.

Levonorgestrel, commercially known as Plan B One Step or Next Choice, is an over the counter drug that prevents women from getting pregnant after they’ve had unprotected sex. In 2006 the emergency contraceptive became available for women over 18 over the counter. However, with the support advocates, levonorgestrel became legally accessible for women as young as 17 in 2009.
 “If you’ve got a teen in the clinic, you ought to be talking to them about sexual activity, even if that’s not necessarily why they’re coming in,” said Dr. Cora Breuner, a pediatrician and a member of the academy’s committee on adolescence.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, not only are teenagers beginning to engage in sexual activities at a later age, the birthrate among teens have continued to decrease within the last 50 years.

“My parents were very hesitant about discussing sex and birth control”, said Gia Cerease, 21. “It was just expected that you waited until marriage.”

While most doctors are still encouraging regular use of contraceptives including oral birth control, intrauterine devices and implants, there is a concern that not enough young women are aware of emergency contraceptives. Researchers say that based on a recent study, only 16 percent of college students knew they had access to morning after pills on their campuses.

Torres Jerelds, Florida A&M University’s health educator said that even though FAMU health services does not provide advance prescriptions for emergency contraceptives, they do provide the morning after pill for students upon request.

There is also a growing concern among critics that rather than investing in birth control, teens will become more reliable on emergency contraceptives.

“The way it’s looking, birth control is getting more expensive and a lot of people, including myself, are concerned with side effects like weight gain, feeling sick and fatigue,” said third year broadcast student Dieldra Clark.

“Everything has its risks,” Jerelds said. “For example, if a woman has multiple abortions then she can damage her cervix and risk infertility. It really depends on the individual. The more important issue is giving women a voice and letting them know that they have options.”

Another reason critics are ridiculing the idea of making morning after pills more easily available to teens is because it may encourage them to engage in unprotected sex, increasing the chances of contracting an STD.

“The problem is that this doesn’t do anything about sexually transmitted diseases and HIV; We want them using condoms.” said John B. Jemmott, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and developer of an abstinence-only sex education.

“The safest way to not only avoid unplanned pregnancies, but also STDs is by just not having sex,” 
said Jerelds. 

By Jasmin Harris
With contributions from The New York Times
Video, Patti Lee

Plan B One Step
Next Choice
Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Pro Life America
Advocates for Youth

November 6, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, FL -A Massachusetts teenager is affording blind students across the nation the opportunity to do the unthinkable—play tennis.

Blind tennis, which was originally started in Japan in 1984, has finally made its debut in the U.S. with the help of 17-year-old Sejal Vallabh.

The high school senior and Massachusetts native became acquainted with the sport after doing an internship in Japan.

"After I saw it there, I knew that I wanted to recreate the sport that I had seen back in the U.S.," Vallabh said.

Upon returning home from her internship, Vallabh established Tennis Serves, a non-profit organization that promotes blind tennis in the U.S.

"I didn't know someone with no vision could play tennis until I came to this school," Jonathan, a teenager from Modesto, said.

Unlike traditional tennis, in blind tennis the courts are smaller, the nets are lower and the rackets have larger heads and shorter handles. Players know they have stepped out of bound if their feet touch strings on the floor. Also, rather than a standard tennis ball, players use a foam ball with beads inside that rattle when hit.

"The most difficult thing to teach is timing their stroke," said Vallabh. "Being able to listen to the ball, locate it using their sense of hearing and swing at the precise moment the ball goes by is really difficult to teach."

Along with starting blind tennis programs at Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts, Vallabh has also assisted in starting blind tennis programs at Lighthouse International in New York City and California School for the Blind.

The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind also has athletic programs for students who are vision impaired. 

“Our student athletes are able to participate in sports and receives benefits that any inter scholastic team has to offer at a high school,” said Sue Hill, the FSDB athletic director. 

Hill said blind student athletes at FSDB are not only playing tennis. 

“We have football basketball, cross car and swimming.”

By Jasmin Harris
With contributions from The New York Times
Photo, Tennis Serves
Video, Metroblindsport

Florida School for the Deaf and Blind
Perkins School for the Blind
United States Association of Blind Athletes Sports Alliance


November 5, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, FL -Studies presented at the American Heart Association conference on Monday suggest that although taking multivitamins decreases the chances of getting cancer, they do not have effects on heart disease particularly in men.

"Many people take vitamin supplements as a crutch," said Dr. Howard Sesso, the study’s leader. "They're no substitute for a heart-healthy diet, exercising, not smoking, keeping your weight down.” The doctor from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston said.

“I take multivitamins to help build my immune system, and to keep overall body functions healthy, and to get me through the day,” said third-year physical therapy student Robert Reeves. “I think multivitamins can help combat any type of chronic disease, but it's not a cure.”

Sesso conducted an 11-year study where 15,000 male doctors were either given Centrum Silver or a fake multivitamin. The study revealed there were no differences between heart attacks, strokes, chest pain, heart failure or heart-related deaths in either group of men.

Later, Sesso’s study revealed that the men who consumed the multivitamin were eight percent less likely to develop cancer.

“I take multivitamins to make sure that I get all the vitamins and minerals that I may miss with my regular diet,” said Orlando Magic conditioning coach, Anthony Harvey. “I think multivitamins are one piece of many that prevent and combat diseases. Proper diet as well as exercising, along with the use of multivitamins give the most benefit.”

Sesso also suggested that based on the study, in addition to using multivitamins, people can lower their chances of heart disease by dieting, exercising, and avoiding smoking.

A separate study revealed that consuming fish oil had no affects on arterial fibrillation, an irregular heart beat condition.

Although one third of Americans take a multivitamin, no government agencies encourage using them specifically to aid against chronic illnesses.  

By Jasmin Harris 
With contributions from The New York Times
Video, Kincommunity



October 31, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, FL —An Ohio teen is being charged with a misdemeanor after selling marijuana to high school students and people in his community. Judge Thomas Lipps sentenced Tyler Pagenstecher to at least six months in jail on Monday.

“I understood that I would get in trouble but not to the level or extent this has become, and I sincerely regret all of this,” said Pagenstecher. “If I could take it all back, I would.”  

According to authorities, the 18-year-old was trafficking high-grade marijuana that was worth about $20,000. The Warren County Drug Tasks Force discovered $6,000 in cash in the teen’s bedroom upon further investigation.

The Cincinnati police suspect the Pagenstecher had been selling the illegal drug since he was 15-years-old.  The popular drug dealer, who picked up the name “Little Czar”, had been apart of a ring where he had four of his own peers working for him.

People in the Cincinnati neighborhood that knew the teen described him as seemingly a normal. Police believe Pagenstecher managed to stay discrete since the he sold marijuana from his home rather than at school. Authorities have found no clues that Pagenstecher’s mother was aware of her son’s illegal activities.

Tallahassee, Florida saw a similar home drug selling incident.

On Feb. 5 Tallahassee Police responded to a home invasion at 1218 Wahnish way. The invasion left resident Trevor Paulk shot, Denzell Billings-Harrison arrested, and Jamal Kee dead. 

Harrison and his cousin, Kee, had gone to Paulk’s apartment to purchase marijuana. Authorities recovered marijuana in Harrison’s pocket.

Florida A&M University police officer Evelyn Anderson suggests that since many teens are being raised in single parent homes, they are easily lured into being involved with illegal activities such as selling drugs.

“They do it because they don’t think they can get caught,” Anderson said.

By Jasmin Harris
With contribution from The New York Times,,,
Photo, Elite Daily


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