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Indiana Coalition Targets Improving Adolescent Health

Armen Hareyan's picture

Adolescent Health

As the adolescent population grows larger, the need for more resources and attention aimed at helping them will be needed.

In response to these changes, the Indiana Coalition to Improve Adolescent Health is working to better address the needs of Indiana's young people.

Founded in 2006, the Indiana Coalition to Improve Adolescent Health is a collaborative effort of organizations and agencies throughout Indiana serving youth in a variety of capacities who share the common goal of improving the health of adolescents in the state. The Coalition currently comprises 25 organizations and agencies, including the Indiana State Department of Health, and state health officials say it continues to grow.

"The Coalition is grateful to have the time and expertise of so many individuals across the state who are truly interested and dedicated to making a difference in the lives of adolescents in Indiana," said Judy Monroe, M.D. State Health Commissioner.

The Coalition seeks to increase awareness that adolescents are among Indiana's most valuable asset, to advance awareness of the health issues affecting adolescents, and to ensure Indiana is a healthy place for adolescents to grow and develop.

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"Adolescence is not only a time of opportunities and risks, it also encompasses the time in life when pivotal changes occur biologically, cognitively, emotionally and socially," said Monroe. "During this time, significant choices about health and health practices take shape that will continue into adulthood."

Twenty-one percent of Indiana's total population is adolescents and emerging adults (ages 20-24). It is estimated they will comprise 13 percent of the United States' population by the year 2020.

The Coalition has begun authoring Indiana's first state adolescent health plan. Indiana will join only five other states that have published a similar document. The plan will focus on the priority health issues facing adolescents and emerging adults in Indiana and provide recommendations for various sectors of communities to address these issues, including policymakers and parents.

"Negative messages can adversely affect a teen's judgment and keep him or her from choosing healthy behaviors like eating nutritiously, being physically active, avoiding tobacco or alcohol products, and abstaining from sexual activity," said Stephanie Woodcox, state adolescent health coordinator.

According to the 2005 Indiana Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), following are key issues facing adolescents in the state: