Throughout the years some, of us have conveniently misdiagnosed the cause of the unforgettable but preventable attacks on America’s schools. For a long time, several influential but misguided people have blamed school shootings and other attacks across the United States on the right to bear arms (a portion of the 2nd amendment) and shut out the aspect of mental health initiatives or lack thereof. Recently several school protests and “walkouts” have occurred all across America. The message or goal of these demonstrations of protestation is to restrict gun rights in our country, but will that really have a positive effect on our society? If these regulations were passed, law abiding gun owners across the United States would riot in the streets. Instead of focusing all of our efforts on to taking guns out of the situation (a completely unrealistic goal) maybe we should focus on helping our students and citizens in general with the state of their mental health.
Several people said that shootings such as Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland were not preventable but others argue that taking away the right to own guns would’ve stopped all of this from happening. Instead of using irrational or unrealistic arguments, we can all agree on a more positive and efficient solution. Dozens of schools tend to let their counselors give a speech on bullying, give the children a packet, and never say anything again to the students. This recurring issue has led to several kids being bullied so badly that they act irrationally and violently. According to stopbullying.gov, approximately every 1 in 3 students are being bullied everyday. At first, bullying will bother kids and hurt their feelings but once it gets bad enough the children can become radical and cause harm to innocent people. If schools were to push mental health and wellness initiatives, reaching out to kids would be more productive and effective. If we can identify the students who are in need of mental support we can decrease the risk of violent activity in schools.
I had a personal experience with this issue last week when a large number of the student body participated in a walkout with a goal of ending gun ownership in America. I chose to not participate because their ideas and goals were unrealistic and against my beliefs. Even if the government were to pass a law to get rid of all commercial gun purchasing, citizens would turn to the black market and the United States would slowly but surely become a country ridden by chaos. Instead of angering both parties in this conflict the “problem solvers’’ need to focus on a plan that keeps the protesters and the anti-protesters happy while also incorporating an aspect of mental health and wellness. This country has been, is, and always will be a strong nation. Events like Parkland, Orlando, and 9/11 have always brought us together as a country. Instead of pushing apart we need to be joining together to find an efficient, effective, and full proof plan to protect and honor the citizens of the United States.
Aidan C. Stolz
8th Grade Student
Fort Collins, Colorado
For years there had been no definitive research carried out to see if those who are on hormonal birth control, are at risk of depression. Most people were self-diagnosed or simply changed to a different dosage to see if that would fare better with them. Mood changes did occur but it was found to be solely tied to birth control, rather society continued to see the benefits of birth control outweigh the effects it had on mental health. One Buzzfeed article even says that if your acne goes away and you no longer experience extreme cramping, of course your moods ought to get better. However now, there are real statistics and qualitative data that note that those on any form of hormonal birth control are at higher risk to mental health issues - including depression, anxiety, and/or increased mood disorders.
A recent Danish study conducted between 2000 and 2013 looked at women aged 15 to 34. It must be noted that those with preexisting psychiatric conditions along with others who could not take hormonal medication due to risk of clotting, were excluded. To give the study a further element of credence, immigrants, who have been proven to show higher rates of depression, were also excluded.
According to the Harvard Health Blog, contributing editor and doctor, Monique Tello, said, “The researchers analyzed hormonal contraceptive use and subsequent depression in two different ways. They evaluated women who had received a diagnosis of depression as well as women who had received a prescription for antidepressants; these analyses were run separately, and they obtained statistically equivalent results.”
The results showed that all forms of birth control lead to higher risks of depression or serious changes in mood, in a small percentage of women. The highest rate of those at risk are individuals who take “progesterone-only forms, including the IUD.” Dr. Tellow continues to say that the research concludes that “this risk was higher in teens ages 15 to 19, and especially for non-oral forms of birth control such as the ring, patch and IUD. That the IUD was particularly associated with depression in all age groups is especially significant, because traditionally physicians have been taught that the IUD only acts locally and has no effects on the rest of the body.”
Birth control continues to serve as a very positive contribution to our society. It gives women and couples the opportunity to enjoy sex without the burden of having a child or worse - having to decide if a child is wanted or not. Birth control has many benefits, but all of its side effects need to be known. Just like every type of medication, the side effects vary from individual to individual. It is crucial that each person knows the risks that they may face as a result of what they put in their bodies.
A personal note:
Growing up with a father who played the dual role of mother and father, I often went blindly into the area of womanhood. My dad, who is an expert at making pancakes like Cinderella and was my coach for nearly everything, was never an expert in female anatomy. And hell, I can’t blame him —he is a man after all. But damn, did he do his best. From asking me if I had become a woman to taking me to get birth control knowing that I had become sexually active and that my cramps left me crippled, my dad was always there.
The first birth control I went on immediately caused me to become lethargic and very quiet during the fall of my junior year of high school. I then switched to an alternative that was a much lower dosage. For years this worked as it did not seem to affect my mood or hinder me athletically and it definitely helped my cramps that had previously left me bedridden. Unfortunately, after a few years, I started bleeding for weeks on end. Throughout my freshman year of college, I had my “period” for weeks. After doing some reading, I discovered that this is commonplace once one's body become acclimated to one form. So, I went to go change my birth control once more.
This time, the doctor prescribed me something slightly higher but was essentially comprised of the same components. For the most part, I felt fairly normal, but I began to notice that my lows became lower and I would often cry for hours on end. I would like to think that I was so lost in what was happening in my life at the time that I could blame all of my extreme emotions on exterior things, but looking back I just can’t. Yes, I dated some bad guys. Yes, I was frustrated in how I couldn’t translate hard work into things on paper. And yes, I was officially cutting my mom out of my life. But months later, when I no longer needed contraceptives in my life, I found immediate changes. I never cried, and I was consistently happier. I didn’t find myself getting upset over the small stuff and collectively, I was stable again.
Up until recently, a part of me still didn’t believe that a little pill that could affect me so much. So, after not seeing my boyfriend for ten months, and not crying in nine of them, I started the pill once more. I took them for three days and on the third day, I yelled at my boyfriend about a movie. I stopped taking it the very next day. I have come to the realization hormonal birth control just does not work for me or my body.
When the Netherlands comes up in conversation, the topics often turn to windmills, canals, and the famous Dutch city of Amsterdam. What doesn’t come up as often is suicide, and that, in of itself, is surprising. Last year 1,894 people committed suicide in the Netherlands - a rate of around 11 per 100,000 people. In 2015, the country reported its highest rate in suicide ever - leaving many to wonder, why?
The easy answer is that euthanasia is legal, or at least it has been since 2002. In other words, patients can ask their doctors for assistance committing suicide in a safe and effective matter. Patients that are terminally ill or suffering can request euthanasia, although being terminally ill is not a prerequisite. In the Netherlands, euthanasia accounts for 4.5 percent of all deaths. Euthanasia is also legal in Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and six US states.
Some claim that the ease and normalcy of euthanasia in society means that more people will ask for it. When it becomes okay to ask to end your life, the stigma might fade. This does not however, change the high rate of suicide in the country. So, why the Netherlands? The country does not have any particular problem with its healthcare system nor is it under an autocratic regime where many people’s rights are withheld.
The answer might be depression. Researchers have calculated that in the Netherlands, depression makes up for a high share of “years lived with disability” (YLDs) - nearly 16 percent. This is somewhat surprisingly high for the country who rates as the “fourth happiest country in the world” on the Global Happiness scale.
Suicide doesn’t necessarily have a clear-cut answer. One of the hardest things left over when loved ones are faced with a friend or a family member who has committed suicide is the question: why? The only person that can answer that is no longer with you. We can’t make any clear assumptions about why the suicide rate in the Netherlands is so high. Superficial assumptions like the weather and the grey weather might have merit. But in the end - high suicide rates might mean that there is something culturally unique about the Netherlands - or that nothing is unique at all and that suicide rates vary on an uncountable number of factors.
But don’t let that stop you from appreciating Dutch history, beautiful art and incredible strides towards a greener economy. The country may be small and contain a large percentage of suicides, but it still hosts a wide section of world culture and history that cannot be matched.
With our daily lives focusing around work and school, it’s easy to ignore your mental health. Most of us can function perfectly fine without taking a moment to breath and to consider what’s going on “up there.” But that shouldn’t be the case! Though it may be the “norm” to pull all-nighters and to push yourself to the breaking point - that might not be the healthiest way to handle things. Drinking ten cups of coffee and then passing out on the couch is a somewhat glamorized image and perhaps even an aspiration of students. But... but, maybe it’s not the best way to handle things.
Here are five easy ways you can keep on top of your mental health - whether you’re working 9-5 or are a student going through a demanding exam period.
Get a Move on
One of the easiest ways you can give your brain a second to take a break is through movement. Dance in your apartment or go to the gym, walk outside or bike - it doesn’t matter as long as you move. Each of us enjoy engaging in different kinds of activities, but physical activity especially allows for your brain to take a breather while you also get your sweat on.
Drink Lots of Water
Your brain is just like any other part of your body - it needs water to survive. So whatever you’re doing, make sure you’re doing it while drinking some water. It only takes five minutes to fill up a glass of water so that you unconsciously drink it later. Bonus points: it isn’t just good for your mental health - it will also make you feel better almost immediately if you’re dehydrated.
Take a Break
Yes, you read that right. Taking a pause can sometimes be really difficult for some to manage, especially when you are pressed for time, but for your mental health’s sake - it’s necessary. Studies even show that students who study with more breaks tend to retain their information for longer periods of time. If your body is screaming for a break after working for five hours non-stop, walk to the coffee machine and take a second away from your computer screen. Your eyes are likely tired and will thank you for the break from the strain.
Chances are if you’re stressing out to the point where you’re concerned about your mental health - you’ve been working too hard. It’s easy to forget that your body is also on overdrive when you’re studying or putting in long hours at work to meet a deadline. One of the best ways to counteract this is to take time to thank yourself with a treat - something just for you. Maybe you love chocolate or there’s a new movie you want to see? Take yourself out and reward yourself for doing such hard work.
Remember to Breathe and Smile
A simple smile can improve your mood. So remember to take a moment to smile and to remind yourself to breathe slowly and calmly throughout the day. Working isn’t generally a cardio exercise, so take advantage of this time to manage your stress by focusing on your breath and by utilizing the muscles on your face.
Once the gold medals are passed out and the tourists go home, the cities that host the Olympics face a problem. What do they do with the stadiums and massive investment in infrastructure? What happens to the pavillions made for millions of tourists once their trip has ended? As is with most complex problems, the answer is: it depends.
In cities like Rio de Janeiro, stadiums are already falling into disrepair. Although it has only been two years since the 2016 Games, the main sites of the games have been looted or completely abandoned. In the renown Olympic Park that was constructed for the Games, no operators have come forward seeking to take up the venues. That means four arenas built for sports, including two separate arenas, the tennis center and the velodrome, will remain empty and closed off for anyone to enter.
What this says about the legacy of the Olympics is not good. Cities that host with the intention of gaining some kind of economic gain from hosting the worldwide sports competition are faced with rising rental costs, failing infrastructure, and discontent from local residents that were evicted from their homes. For Rio’s games, around 80,000 citizens were removed for their homes in expectation of the mass amount of construction. Now, they live in worse situations.
Rio de Janeiro, however, is not the only city to have hosted the games. London used its opportunity to host the games to bring a part of their city back to life. Places like Hackney Wick, which never were developed before, now operate as the new ‘hip’ places to live and work. What makes a winning strategy? How can cities ensure that they end with London’s positive feedback loop rather than Brazil and Athen’s deserted masses of space? The United Kingdom will tell you that the answer lies in repurposing buildings and recycling locations rather than building new ones all-together. Instead of building drastically large stadiums, the answer lies in using warehouses and previously existing arenas.
When hosting, Barcelona used similar tactics to London, using the Games to rebuild its industrial sector. Placing investment in public transport and reusable spaces is where the key lies for effective post-Olympic growth. Will Tokyo do the same? What do we have to look forward to Seoul?
Jon Pack and Gary Hustwit are two photographers that attend the locations of the Games years after they finish to see what happens, and what the consequences of hosting these games are. Their project is called The Olympic City Project. Listen to their interview with NPR.
Athletes have long served as some of the most important activists. They are respected by their fans based on their performance, their work ethic, and their way of life. In turn, they have earned a platform to discuss and to highlight issues they deem important. Thus, athletes have become essential diplomats and advocates for real change.
Historically, we have seen sports serving as the platform for discussions surrounding race, gender, and sexuality. Athletics also provides the arena for athletes to talk and to demonstrate how they can be representatives of their nation - regardless of their leader or the rhetoric the party in office, stands behind.
Heading into the Winter Olympics, Lindsey Vonn, Colorado bred, ski-racer, spoke up about how she intends to represent the good in the nation. As noted in The Guardian, Vonn was quoted saying, “I hope to represent the people of the United States, not the President.” She thinks that there are currently not people in the U.S. political system that are accurately representing the United States. Thus, Vonn finds it her duty to showcase the United States in a positive light and to represent a large majority of America that does not support the narrative of the current administration.
Generally speaking, the Summer Olympics are the time when most protests take place. However, due to Trump's time in office, it is very likely that this year will see a higher rate of protests - from gay athletes to those speaking out about religion as well as those who will stand up against the inevitable comments and tweets made by President Trump. For instance, Gus Kenworthy, British-born, but born and raised in Telluride, Colorado, is a freestyle skier who is largely known as the only openly gay competitor going into the 2018 Olympics. In his recent interview with The Times, Kenworthy told them he has no interest in feigning support for the President. Further, he notes that 30 years ago he could not have come out and have been able to be successful in his sport. He sees his position in society as being a catalyst of change —using his status as an athlete to promote acceptance and equality.
Being an athlete demands respect. Athletes put in the hours, and in many aspects, their sport plays an integral part of their identity. Perhaps even more importantly, an athlete has earned the platform to speak up to what matters to them. In many cases, athletes have spoken up for humanity, for collective human rights. From Jackie Robinson to Jesse Owens, from Lindsey Vonn to Gus Kenworthy - athletes play a momentous role in creating change and in creating history.
As we celebrate the Olympics and competitive sports in all of its formats, let’s not forget that sports include more than the aspect of games. “To do sport” is faire du sport in French or “Fitness machen” in German encompass any kind of physical activity. In many countries, that has extended to how sports become ingrained their national consciousness. In this article, we take a look at bike sharing and how Vélib’ took over France.
It started in Paris - where Vélib’ launched in 2005 with 8,000 bikes across Paris. In its first year alone, the company made more than 16 million USD. Today, the company makes around 21 million USD on an annual basis with the funds going back to Paris. With 102 million USD in startup costs, how did Vélib’ cope?
As with most things sports, things go hand-in-hand with advertising. JCDecaux, a multinational firm, won an advertising contract to maintain Vélib’s cycles and set up the infrastructure necessary in a sort of “barter” system exchange for 50 percent of Parisian billboard space for ten years. With this deal, Vélib’ and in turn, JCDecaux, have become average symbols to associate with Paris and France. Although Vélib’ was not the first bike share (that award goes to Velo’v bike rental service in Lyon), it has become world renown and copied throughout the world’s other capital cities. Washington D.C. for example launched SmartBike DC in 2008 with 10 stations and 120 bikes. It is the first bike-sharing program in the USA.
Across the world, other cities have done the same with great results. Cities with large tourist influxes like Montreal, Barcelona and Hangzhou, China all use similar bike sharing systems with modular docking systems so that tourists can operate the bike system without interacting with other humans. Can you guess which city has the largest amount of bicycles? That would be Hangzhou, China with more than 78,000 bicycles.
Today more than a few American cities like Denver and San Francisco also utilize bike sharing programs. With a world focused on healthy living, particularly on beating the epidemic of obesity, bike sharing is the perfect way to ease pressure on public transit systems while providing a healthy alternative for both locals and tourists to get around. Another bonus? Less pollution.
Vélib’ reports that on an annual basis, they support 27.5 million trips. And due to the success, Paris has launched Autolib’ - a car sharing program similarly modeled to Vélib’. Is it thanks to Vélib’ that there are more than 900 bike sharing systems worldwide? Probably not. But the impact that Vélib’ had in making bike sharing “cool again,” shouldn’t be understated.
If you’re interested in reading more about bike sharing, check out Atlantic’s Citylab feature on the Bike Sharing Boom.
Every two years, the world is joined together in what is known as Olympism. And every two years, this universal symbol reemerges: five interlinked rings with one each in blue, black, red, yellow, and green on a white background.
So what does this exactly represent? According to the Olympic Charter, “The Olympic symbol expresses the activity of the Olympic Movement and represents the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games.” (Source)
Despite there being seven continents, according to the Olympics - the five rings represent the five inhabitable continents: the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. Though creator of the symbol and co-founder of the modern Olympic Games, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, appears to have intended the rings to represent the five participating continents. However post-1951, the official handbook does not assign one color to be representative of a specific continent.
The white background also has significance. In combination with the five rings, these six colors are “those that appear on all the national flags of the world at the present time” - Pierre de Coubertin (1931).
So what are your thoughts on this iconic symbol? Should it change to include six rings representing the six inhabitable continents? Should the colors change every year, remain the same, become monochromatic?
Let us know!
Chances are - if you watch the news, you’ve heard of doping. In the past few years, Russian athletes in particular have been tarred with this particular brush and banned from competing in the games. But what is doping?
According to UNESCO:
'Doping' refers to an athlete's use of prohibited drugs or methods to improve training and sporting results. Steroids are the drugs that often come to mind when we talk about doping, but doping also includes an athlete's use of other forbidden drugs (such as stimulants, hormones, diuretics, narcotics and marijuana), use of forbidden methods(such as blood transfusions or gene doping), and even the refusal to take a drug test or an attempt to tamper with doping controls.
As you continue to participate in sport, doping is an issue that you will increasingly face: you could be tested for drugs; some of your competitors will be cheating by using drugs; you may even be tempted to do so yourself. (Source)
When athletes agree to compete in the Olympic or any kind of international-level games, they are subjecting themselves to the rules that the World Anti-Doping Agency stipulates. In this case, anabolic substances, peptide hormones, beta-2 agonists, metabolic modulators, and diuretics are prohibited. Usually at the beginning of and throughout the games, athletes are screened for these substances - and if detected, they are not allowed to compete.
The kind of reports that discuss doping have been rampant in the media as of late. In January 2018, Russia was again banned from the Paralympics in 2018 due to an “insufficient recovery from the doping scandal.” Not only does the International Paralympic Committee state that Russia does not cooperate with any kind of regulation, but that they also have also engaged in state-sponsored doping. In other words, the government of Russia supported cheating in the games. Systemic cheating has become the norm.
In the Olympic Games upcoming in Seoul, 169 Russian athletes have been given special dispensation to compete in the games. As for the Paralympics, Russian athletes that are cleared for participation may compete, but will so do as “Neutral Paralympics Athletes.” That means they will compete, but outside of their country and without the mention of ‘Russia’ in their title. The scandal takes on a drastic tone particularly in Russia, and amongst other countries who were furious at Russia for the country’s lack of morals.
But why does doping matter?
In international politics, as well as a variety of other interactions between countries, there is cheating. There’s no question that amongst diplomats - there is subterfuge and under the table deals. What makes sports different is that it exists as something apart from politics. It represents an opportunity for countries to put aside their political differences and come together. Doping is an attack upon the integrity that sports, for many countries, is a matter of national pride.
National athletes that compete in the Olympics are the cream of the crop that countries have to send. They represent the strength and endurance of each competitor, regardless of the level of interest any particular citizen has in sports. In other words, doping is more than simply cheating, it’s pulling the rug out from under the rightful winner - and doing so in the most immoral of tactics.
The Winter Olympics are fast approaching. On February 9th, the 2018 Olympic Games will kick off in the South Korean city, Pyeongchang. While there is the anticipated buzz of excitement that always accompanies the Olympics - from both viewers and athletes alike, this year is different.
2018 is unique on many fronts - from Russia not being represented in the games, to the nuclear chess game in the mix and the reintroduction of the Korean unification flag. These elements all play a role in the Games' failing ticket sales. We breakdown why people are not flocking to the 2018 Winter Games:
2. On top of the tensions, another, less threatening reason for sales to be down, could be attributed to South Korea not being on the top of people's’ travel bucket lists.
3. The Winter Olympics are not as popular as the the Summer Games. The Winter Olympics are less representative of the global community, given that winter sports are concentrated in the northern hemisphere.
With the Winter Olympics a little more than a week out, it is still not too late to buy the tickets that many people are not purchasing. Your once in a lifetime chance to be in South Korea, in the height of a nuclear power play, could be one of the cheapest Olympics you could attend. To purchase tickets you can visit: http://www.jetsetsports.com/olympicgames or https://www.cosport.com/olympics/tickethotelpackages.aspx?utm_source=BodyLink&utm_medium=Website&utm_campaign=UserExperience&utm_term=HTP
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