Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Posted February 14th, 2012

Take action this Valentine’s Day; help your teens care for their hearts

It’s Valentine’s Day, and it’s a great time to talk about the heart.  We hear a lot about getting our kids the right kind of food and physical activity for a strong healthy heart.  The First Lady even has a campaign called Let’s Move!  Her goal is to reduce childhood obesity in a generation.  On Valentine’s Day we are focused on the emotional heart, that is the romance and attraction we may have for someone that touches our heart.  In the emotional heart department, we fall short in having discussions and providing our kids with the skills necessary to know how to care for their heart.  I am going to suggest to the First Lady a second campaign and call it, Let’s Heart It! The goal would be to reduce teen pregnancy and disease in a generation.  What do you think?

I am just a little fired up about it because this afternoon I spoke with high school students about the sex education they received in elementary, middle and high school.  They said they saw a video in elementary that they didn’t understand, they received very little in middle school except for some scary slides of STDs and nothing in high school.  They told me please talk to us from the beginning about the menstrual cycle and go all the way to the end about having sex.  Tell us the pros and the cons of having sex.  They wanted me to know there was a lot of peer pressure to have sex and while they might act like they are big and bad, deep down they care and have feelings – they have a heart!  I asked them if they ever received information about healthy relationships, I got a resounding NO!  I asked them if their parents talked to them, again I got a NO!  I offered up the idea of having a workshop for parents and they told me they didn’t think any parents would come!

Later in the day I went across town to a school meeting where a group of educators were deciding what kind of sex education lessons they would offer.  They knew what the students needed ….a real heart to heart factual, skill based instruction, but they thought it would be safest to pull a few lessons so it would fit into the academic schedule, and water it down to make it more “palatable” to the school board, administration and community.  This group needs a different kind of heart!  Courage!  The Latin derivative of the word is “cour” which means heart.

Ironic isn’t it that the young people I met with this morning desperately need adults to talk to them about their heart and the adults I met with later in the day need to find their heart!  For the sake of our young people, I hope the two can get together. 

Valentine’s Day is a great day to start the conversation and take action! Funding is going away and that will make it worse for the sex ed of young people.

Three things you can do:

1) Push the button on the Advocates for Youth Amplify Your Voice petition to support DASH and voice your concerns about the cuts.  Encourage 5 colleagues or friends to do so as well.

2) Contact SIECUS (Jen), Advocates for Youth (Sarah) or NCSD (Stephanie) if you are willing to talk in person with a Senators or Representatives’s office in your work or private citizen voice.  This will be occurring over the next few months. They can give you directions, a script and talking points.

3) Share this email with others 

Remember, we all have incredible voices that make a difference! 


About me

I’m Barb Flis, Founder of Parent Action for Healthy Kids. I insist that every parent has the power to make a difference. I’m a parent guru, a published expert in advocating for children’s health, and most importantly, a mother of two daughters. My focus lies in connecting families, schools and communities on children’s social, emotional and physical health. Areas of work include asthma, diabetes, sex education, mental health, school wellness programs, physical activity and nutrition. I design and implement trainings and workshops for parents, teachers, school administrators, public health professionals and community-based organizations. I’m also motivational speaker throughout my home state of Michigan and across the United States.