Friday, March 28, 2014

Treating Yourself: The Importance of Self-Care

Growing up, we have an enormous burden upon our shoulders: the daily task of school or work, the balance between our family and friends, and the amount of obligations we ought to attend to. But as we busy ourselves focusing so heavily on these things that seemingly need our attention, we may forget to take care of something even more important: ourselves.

As a term rarely discussed, self-care refers to the actions and attitudes which contribute the maintenance of our well-being and personal health, or, in other words, the steps one takes in order to better themselves, from the inside out. Though we often cannot control our own circumstances, we can decide how we go about taking care of ourselves.

Self-care isn’t limited to only one particular category; we can nourish ourselves in a plethora of ways. Sometimes, though, we may get caught up in devoting so much of our time and energy towards only one portion of our lives so that the others areas are neglected. By working towards rejuvenating ourselves emotionally and spiritually, bettering our health physically, and expanding ourselves mentally and socially, we can take tiny strides to help ourselves become more able to take on any challenge or triumph. The ways to do this differ for each individual, but the first step to self-care is doing something, anything, that makes you feel good – because you deserve it.

If you ever want to discuss more about self-care and what it can do for you, or anything else that you’re thinking about, no matter the topic, give Teen Link a call at (866) 833-6546 any night from 6-10 pm to talk anonymously with another teen. If you would prefer, you can also reach us on our Chat, which can be found at

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Differently Abled in India

     Today, there is a lot more respect for the differently abled than there used to be. Especially with the passage of acts such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the United States has become a more hospitable place for the differently abled. While there is still far to go, inroads have been made socially as well, towards acceptance of the differently abled. However, across the ocean in India, many issues currently affect the differently abled.

  While about 4-8% of India's population (40-80 million people) is differently abled, it is currently very difficult for them to access facilities in India. For example, even in Delhi, the capital of India and one of its most opportunistic cities, it is almost impossible for the visually impaired in India to perform daily tasks unassisted, due to the roads being very uneven and full of hidden potholes, as well as the high dangers involved with crossing the road. Life is also very difficult for the mobility impaired: many shops require people to go up stairs, and public transport is not wheelchair accessible. These problems affect not only the differently abled, but also the aging population of India. Many of the older people in India are unable to take walks due to poorly maintained or nonexistent sidewalks. These infrastructure problems are further compounded by a lack of public sensitivity.

     At the moment, public sensitivity for the differently abled in India is very low. The situation is such that a lot of people either try to help the differently abled to the point of controlling them or that they ignore them completely. Differently abled children and adults are sometimes abandoned on the road, even those who come from a wealthy family. A lack of sensitivity prevents cities from moving forward with comprehensive accessibility reform, but hope is starting to emerge.

     The above picture is from an NGO started by Ravi Kaira, and is known as the Earth Saviours Foundation. They are committed to such causes as stewardship of the environment, reducing noise pollution, and care of the differently abled. They operate a shelter which picks up the differently abled people who are abandoned off of the road. They care for them by provide shelter, education, and other support. Groups, like the Earth Saviors Foundation are helping to increase the sensitivity for the differently abled in India while providing a safe place for them. These groups receive more and more volunteers and staff each year and signal the possibility of a bright future for the differently abled youth in one of the fastest developing countries in the world, India.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Living with a Learning Disability

“When I was in first grade I was tested to see which reading level I was in, at that time the test was timed, I have major test anxiety, even if the test is on something I know well I still do not do well on it. Because of the results of the test, the teacher told me I was unable to read at the reading standard for first graders and I would have to take a reading class. Which seemed nice until second grade when there was two new students in this reading class and the teacher thought it would be best to start over on how to read from the beginning of how to read. I felt like I was wasting my time because I could have been working on other things instead of learning how to read for the third time. At one point of taking this reading class it was at the same time of day that my regular class was doing the basics of math, so not only was I behind in reading, I didn't know how to do multiplication. Ever since elementary school I have struggled with reading and math, I lost a lot of the confidence I once had, I became very shy because I was struggling with something that everyone could do so easily.

In middle school I was incredibly shy because I thought everyone thought I was dumb, I wouldn't participate in class for fear I would get the answer wrong. Once I got more comfortable with my classmates, I started to talk. I was shocked when my classmates were surprised I knew how to talk or I did talk, they thought I was mute. It seemed like no one understood what I was going through, my mom and my school counselor would tell me I was smart and couldn't understand why I was struggling in school. I met a good friend who had always been in honors classes and their favorite past time was reading. She was willing to help me with classes and motivated me to get help in classes and even try hard classes. The best day of my school career was when I received an A in my Advanced Placement English class. The teacher who told me I couldn't read was wrong. I proved to her wrong and I was so proud of the challenges I had overcome.”

Many schools have a hard time embracing students different abilities. School has transformed learning into a standardized process that limits the way you learn and what you learn about. It can seem very lonely when you feel like you are the only one struggling with something and no one really understands what you are going through. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with school because of learning disabilities, I really encourage you to reach out to the people in your life that you trust, whether that be your parents,  your  teachers and / or your school counselor, or your friend. Often there can be something they do to help you find a way to learn and succeed in school. If you feel like ever need someone to talk to about what is going on and school and all the frustrations call Teen Link 1(866) 833-65465  or Chat with Teen Link at, where the volunteer are understanding and are students like you!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Butterfly Circus

Take a minute to picture a crowded street. See the people checking their phones for the time, bustling about to make it to where they're going. See the people who bump into each other and mumble a hasty apology before going back on their way.

Where are they rushing to? Who are they?

Few stop to ask these questions because our minds are often busy streets of thoughts keeping us from the outside world. What do I have to do today? What are my friends doing? How come I can't be like other people who have it all together? Why can't I be perfect?

The world is a crazy place with crazy people in it. No one is perfect, but at the same time, everyone is perfect because we are accumulations of what we've been through. Each person you see has survived all the way until the moment you saw them, and each person has a story of how they did. It's difficult to see a person and understand them without knowing what it's taken for them to get there.

People become so trapped with what they think that they start spiraling in a cycle of negativity. They go faster and faster until they feel like they've hit the bottom and deserve to be at the bottom.

But take a moment and breathe deeply. Take in the air around you and look at yourself. Remind yourself that you are layered and complex and that it's okay to struggle. It sucks, it really does, but you never know what could be around the corner.


"The Butterfly Circus" is a video about struggles and triumphs. It's a video about seeing people beyond the surface and understanding that everyone has a story and an opportunity to write their own.

The video can be found here: The Butterfly Circus

If you have ever felt misunderstood or brushed aside,  try to remember that your story matters. You matter. We live in a hectic world that leaves us with no room to breathe--but it's okay to let out a sigh and slow it down for a bit. You can call Teen Link and talk about what's going on. Tell us your story.

You can call (866) 833-6546 any day from 6-10pm or chat through

"The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph."

Monday, March 17, 2014

A shout out to teen moms! What it is really like to be pregnant

One of the first things that went through my head when I found out I was pregnant, besides "Oh no!, what is my mom going to think?" was "great, I'm going to get fat." 

Some people say that pregnancy is such a beautiful thing. I believe the fact that a little person growing inside of you is beautiful, but the many changes a woman's body endures are not.

Here are some things I learned about what it is like to be pregnant and some lessons for what you might learn about your body during pregnancy

 Lesson 1: Babies love pickles.

For the first 4 ½ maybe 5 months of pregnancy the baby is still so small that a little “baby bump” is all people see. It is hard to differ between an actual baby inside of you and a little tummy fat. Also, the baby needs food! Being pregnant made my appetite increase a lot! Women often find themselves eating very strange things that they never liked before just because the baby needs the protein or iron or whatever is in the food. For me, it was fruit and random vegetables with sugar. It wasn’t normal pairs though like strawberries and chocolate. I put whip cream on every fruit and veggie I saw in my house. My favorite was whip cream and pickles. It’s not just a rumor that pregnant woman cave pickles because I did too!

Lesson 2: Must love TUMS

Some common pregnancy symptoms that I had and did not enjoy were morning sickness and heart burn. These were not fun! I would feel completely fine and then out of nowhere get an upset feeling in my stomach and be rushing to the bathroom to vomit. No matter what I ate, spicy or not I would get heart burn. I even started carrying around a bottle of TUMS.

Lesson 3: Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it can

Later on in pregnancy the weight of the baby really starts to take a toll on your body. Your back arches like a Pringle and aches all the time because it is trying to help support the weight of the baby. Your hips start to shift and become wider. Also, if the baby is carried high, there is a greater chance of your ribs getting kicked, pushed, and even bruised. During the end a woman’s body has already gone through so much, she is uncomfortable because having a large belly makes it hard to do pretty much everything even sleep, and she is just ready for the baby to come out!

Lesson 4: It’s all worth it
And then there is child birth. I am not even going to get into the horrifying details of that because I think you all can imagine how terrible it can be. In the end though, seeing my baby made it all worth it, because a mother’s love for her child is unlike any other love out there.

For all of the other young moms out there: here are some tips or resources for going through the long process of pregnancy: list 5 tips or resources 
  1. Get TUMS 
  2. Paint your toe nails before you get too big or you won’t be able to reach them 
  3. Take relaxing bubble baths if you’re feeling uncomfortable  
  4. Give into the crazy cravings or they get worse!
  5. Call Teen Link if you ever want someone to talk to or support you. Teen Link is a confidential and anonymous helpline for teens answered by teens. Once you have your baby it takes up a lot of your time/all of your time, sleep, and energy, so it is nice to be able to call somewhere and actually talk to another person who will really listen. To call Teen Link dial 1866-833-6546 or you can also use the online chat by visiting the Teen Link website

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Meeting of Teen Minds

The King County Youth Advisory Council (KCYAC) is a youth run council that is designed to inform and advise decisions that are being made about young people. The YAC believes that if decisions are going to be made about young people, young people should have a way to make sure that the decisions being made really do benefit them. Below is an excerpt from the YAC website on how the participants describe themselves.

"We are visionaries and dreamers. We know what we want. We are diverse- all from different races, cultures, styles, backgrounds- and we are going through similar things. We are young, misunderstood, and judged by our appearances. We are resilient, overcoming adversity and want to succeed. We are strong, revolutionary, and we are fighting. We want change and we want to help. We are doing this for others. We want to be heard. We are breaking the cycle."

Each month the YAC focuses on a specific topic to talk about during their council meetings. These meetings are open to all youth between the ages of 16 and 24 and are designed to create an open dialogue of feedback and ideas from youth all around King County.

I recently participated in a meeting where the focus was put on efficient ways to spread the word about programs that could help young adults who have dropped out of high school be reintroduced into a education system that works for them. Splitting up into different groups, we were asked to give our feedback on posters that promoted different programs that offered opportunities to get back into school. Through a discussion of ideas and thoughts, we pointed out some of the great and not-so-great factors to the posters. It was great to see so many people from diverse backgrounds come together to talk about issues that they think can be beneficial for their own generation and share many new and innovative ideas.

You can learn more about the Youth Advisory Council at

If you are interested in checking it out, the next meeting is coming up on Tuesday March 11th from 5:30-7:30pm. It will be at the Downtown Seattle YMCA 909 4th Ave, Rm 120. See you there!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

See the human Inside

"human INSIDE is an anti-discrimination campaign which aims to raise awareness of discrimination and hopefully reduce discrimination as much as possible.

Instead of using people, inanimate objects became the subjects of the photo essays. Each essay tells a story that relates to results of discrimination or how it unfolds." 

Through these powerful images and quotes, Faheema Patel demonstrates discrimination that surrounds and affects us all. 

Racial Discrimination

In 2012, 51 percent of Americans expressed anti-black sentiments in a poll; a 3 percent increase from 2008.
"99.9% of the DNA of every person in the world is identical.” – The Human Genome Project
(Faheema Patel)

Body Image

80% of children who are 10 years old are afraid of being fat.
“Man is the only critter who feels the need to label things as flowers or weeds.” – Unknown
(Faheema Patel)

Disability Discrimination 

Just over 1 in 4 of today's 20 year-olds will become disabled before they retire. No one is immune, only resilient.  
Differently abled not disabled (Faheema Patel)

Bystander Effect

In 54% of cases, bystanders reinforced the bully by watching but not joining in. 
“Our thoughts are unseen hands shaping the people we meet. Whatever we truly think them to
 be that’s what they’ll become for us.” – Richard Cowper 
(Faheema Patel)

Violence Against Women

“6 out of every 10 women worldwide experience violence in their lifetime.” – UNIFEM
(Faheema Patel)
Most dating violence incidents are never reported.
Help change the facts. Speak up, speak out, and make a difference for victims of dating violence.

Religious Discrimination 

Nearly 50 percent of countries increased their religious discrimination between 2009 and 2010, and only 32 percent saw decreases.
If religion is not a crime then why are we treated like criminals? (Faheema Patel)


...a life of peace
...a life of freedom" (Faheema Patel)

Teen Link believes in freedom. We provide a place for young people to talk about their struggles with people their own age. We believe that through talking it out there can be healing. 

Teen Link is an anonymous support line, open everyday 6pm-10pm. We have online chat and a phone line open to everyone ages 13-21. You can reach Teen Link at; 
(866)-833-6546 or

To find more information on the human Inside project visit:
All pictures and quotes belong to Faheema Patel and the human Inside project.