Guest post: How & Where Youth Live, Learn, & Play Matters

Gina Desiderioby Gina Desiderio

Adolescence is an important time of developmental transition, when young people may be more sensitive to the environmental influences around them, in their relationships, communities, and society. For those of us working with adolescents and young adults, we know the programs, education, and services we provide are critical for this positive development…and yet we also know that knowledge, attitudes, and skills are necessary but not sufficient to achieve better outcomes for all young people. Every one of us is affected by factors, or social determinants of health, at an individual level, but also, through our relationships, in our communities, and in society as a whole.

Beyond knowledge, we must consider, for example, how positive parent-child communication and connectedness can protect adolescents and young adults from engaging in risk-taking behaviors. Or, how academic success and achievement are strong predictors of overall health outcomes, and young people with proficient academic skills experience higher rates of healthy behaviors. And we know that adolescents and young adults who live in neighborhoods characterized by concentrated poverty are at higher risk for sexual risk-taking behaviors, lower academic achievement, and poor physical and mental health. These examples—all social determinants of health—highlight opportunities where a holistic approach can help us increase our impact.

How and where youth live, learn, and play matters: we know social determinants of health are mostly responsible for health inequities and disparities. We cannot expect to significantly impact health outcomes without considering the full range of factors that make a critical difference. These factors, the social determinants of health—such as access to quality education and health services, socioeconomic status, or having life goals and aspirations—shape our long-term physical, mental, emotional, and social health and well-being.

Youth 360° is the frame Healthy Teen Network has developed to make it easier to talk about and understand the importance of the social determinants and a holistic approach to health promotion. Healthy Teen Network will be highlighting holistic approaches in adolescent health at our national conference,Youth 360°: How and Where Youth Live, Learn, and Play Matters Youth_360_logo_transparent( We invite you to join us in Baltimore, October 13-16, 2015, to join the conversation on we can leverage our efforts to collaborate, across sectors and beyond traditional funding silos, to be holistic and serve the entire person.


About Healthy Teen Network

01 Healthy Teen Network Logo_shaded_transparentHealthy Teen Network ( envisions a world where all adolescents and young adults lead healthy and fulfilling lives.Founded in 1979, Healthy Teen Network promotes better outcomes for adolescents and young adults by advancing social change, cultivating innovation, and strengthening youth-supporting professionals and organizations. Located in Baltimore, we serve as a leading national membership organization (501c3) for adolescent health professionals, promoting a unique and holistic perspective—our Youth 360° frame—to improve the health and well-being of young people.

Director of Marketing and Communications Gina Desiderio has been with Healthy Teen Network since 2006, providing capacity-building assistance to support professionals to implement programs and services to better meet the needs of youth and achieve positive outcomes.


Membership Discount for Sex Ed Network Members

Join today and Sex Ed Network members are eligible to save 20% to become part of a large national network of adolescent health professionals, working to support and empower young people to thrive!

Healthy Teen Network members receive significant discounts on conference registration, training, webinars, and products. Find out more about membership on our website:

Your membership will start just in time to save on registration for Healthy Teen Network’s annual national conference to be held in Baltimore in October: Youth 360°: How and Where Youth Live, Learn, and Play Matters (