This is my first semester with AZYP. So far, I've really enjoyed it and learned a lot about health topics such as sexual health, pregnancy prevention, substance abuse, mental health, eating healthy, and youth education. Through this internship I have strengthened my skills in research, marketing, educating, and I have learned to use new platforms such as Canva and Microsoft Excel. In addition, I have improved a few of my personal characteristics, such as organization, punctuality, and communication.
At my internship, one of my responsibilities is to create a calendar each month that includes the public health recognition days for that month. The calendar's purpose is for everyone on the team to learn about them and implement these recognition days in the community. The calendar is also used to create educational social media posts for the followers of AZYP. On the calendar, I include the recognition day, its date, research and the significance of recognizing the day, and finally, how this public health day relates to one of the AZYP programs. Another task I've been given is to design and create posts for AZYP's social media platforms, which include Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. These posts contain educational information about community public health and youth wellness recognition days. Followers are instructed on how to participate in the recognition day and why it is so important. The public health topics are also linked to one of the programs provided by AZYP, and a link is provided so that they can easily access the website if they want to learn more or get help.
One project I worked on this semester was a research report on STDs in Maricopa County, which I then compared to the state of Arizona as a whole. I began by categorizing my research by disease, which included chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV. The data was then sorted by year, from 2015 to 2020. The CDC has not yet released data for 2021 and 2022. This information is useful to the agency because it allows them to learn more about the most common STDs in Arizona and improve sexual education in their lesson plans. Another assignment I completed this semester was on pregnancy rates in Maricopa County and the state of Arizona as a whole. I organized this information by year, from 2015 to 2019. (Data from 2020, 2021, and 2022 has not been released yet by the Arizona Department of Health Sciences). Second, by age range, which included 10–14-year-olds, 15–17-year-olds, 18–19-year-olds, and a total of all females aged 19 and under. This information is important to the agency because it will help them improve their "Starting Out Right Division," which provides pregnancy and parenting support to youth and adults throughout Arizona.
This semester, I worked on a third research project about the effects of COVID-19 on youth. I talked about how the pandemic has affected kids in both positive and negative ways. Moving to an online schooling format to help youth improve their technology skills and understanding is one of the benefits. This is advantageous because the world is moving toward more technology, so gaining this experience early on can help prepare them for their future. Another advantage of moving classes online is that children can stay in school and continue their studies rather than having school cancelled entirely, which would put students far behind. Unfortunately, it appears that there are more negatives than positives. Online classes significantly reduce social interaction, and students do not have the opportunity to interact with their peers on a daily basis. Also, in online classes, participation and attendance are more difficult to track because many students turn off their camera and microphone. This can lead to a lack of information retention, causing students to cheat, look up answers on the internet, or ask their peers for help. With all of the tests available online, this makes it a lot easier. Due to the closure of schools, sports teams, and public hangout areas to prevent the spread of the covid virus, youth do not have adequate places to socialize with their peers. Learning communication skills is an important part of maturing and becoming successful. With less social interaction, youth develop weaker social skills, which can harm them in many areas of their lives, including school, work, relationships, and mental health. There are many online platforms for socializing, but they do not provide the same skills that face-to-face contact does, rather learning to hide behind a screen. Online platforms and social media can cause a slew of issues, including low self-esteem and confidence.
Finally, I went to a suicide prevention training where I learned the QPR method: question, persuade, and refer. The QPR Institute, whose mission is to reduce suicidal behavior and save lives by providing innovative, practical, and proven suicide prevention training, taught this (QPR Institute). They believe that a good education allows everyone, regardless of background, to make a difference in the life of someone they know. This training was especially informative and beneficial to me. We were taught the three-step suicide prevention strategy and then given time to practice various scenarios with the instructors and other class participants. Prior to this training session, I had little knowledge of how to properly assist someone who I suspected was struggling or contemplating suicide. This class helped me understand how common suicide is around the world and why it is critical to learn and practice prevention methods as a student about to enter the public health field.