Monday, April 28, 2014

The Path to Publication

Over the years, I have learned that it takes a lot to get your research published. Not only does it take guidance, rigor, and insight on the front end to conduct the study, but it also takes strength, dedication, and persistence to get the research published. Almost 18 months ago, the SC Campaign conducted focus groups with parents of South Carolina middle school students to examine their perception of school-based teen pregnancy prevention programs. While data collection only took a few months, data analysis, interpretation, and manuscript development took a little bit more time. The research team and I worked tirelessly on drafting a quality manuscript which we submitted to the Journal of Sex Education: Sexuality, Society, and Learning special issue dedicated to the work of Dr. Douglas Kirby.

Dr. Douglas Kirby
Now, some of you may know about Dr. Kirby, but for those who don’t I want to share just how much of a pioneer he is to the field of adolescent sexual health. As a graduate student at the University of South Carolina, I cited Dr. Kirby’s work in so many of my research papers focused on parent-child communication, HIV prevention, and adolescents’ engagement in risky behaviors. In my dissertation research, I cited Dr. Kirby’s work more than 15 times, more so than any other researcher in the field. He is a true pioneer in reducing adolescent sexual risk. Dr. Kirby authored more than 150 articles, chapters, and monographs. He also authored “Emerging Answers” and SC Campaign staff served as co-authors in one of Dr. Kirby’s final publications, “Reducing Adolescent Sexual Risk: A Theoretical Guide for Developing and Adapting Curriculum-Based Programs.” Dr. Kirby is one of the SC Campaign’s honorees (being honored posthumously) for this year’s 20th Anniversary Celebration for his work in teen pregnancy prevention and his contributions to the SC Campaign.

Now that you know a little bit more about Dr. Kirby, you can see why publishing in this special issue was so important to me. I submitted an abstract to the journal and was invited to submit a full manuscript, which the co-authors and I had already prepared. We submitted the manuscript and weeks later, received the editor’s decision and feedback from the manuscript reviewers, and accepted pending major revisions. Overall, their feedback was positive, but they provided us with more than five pages of feedback. At first glance, this overwhelmed me and seemed like an impossible task to complete, but overtime the research team was able to address every comment. As with each manuscript that I have written (and published), this experience taught me to be persistent and to stay the course. Now after nine months of writing and revising, our manuscript, "Parental Support for Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Programs in South Carolina Public Middle Schools," has officially been accepted for publication in the Journal of Sex Education’s special issue dedicated to Dr. Kirby. This is a huge accomplishment for the SC Campaign, who worked with Dr. Kirby for 20 years, and this publication has become the highlight of my post-doctoral fellowship here at the SC Campaign.

by India Rose, Post Doctoral Fellow, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Monday, April 21, 2014

It's Almost Time to Celebrate!

The SC Campaign's 20th Anniversary Celebration is right around the corner and we've got lots to be excited for! Here, let me set the stage for you...

As you pull up to the Columbia Museum of Art, you will hear the rhythmic sounds of the Logan Elementary School Steel Drum Band playing in the plaza. You can dance right out of your car and onto our red carpet and leave the rest up to the nice gentlemen of Southern Valet. Boogie on up to the front entrance, but WAIT! Don't forget to get your photo taken in front of our special backdrop. You will also want to pick up these glam shots at the door at the end of the event. 

Upon entering the art museum, you will be greeted by some friendly SC Campaign faces who will check you in. You will notice a gorgeous, limited-edition Jonathan Green poster available to purchase, and only 100 are signed, so don't delay!

At this point, the only thing left to do is have fun!

Grab a drink and some hors d'oeuvres, provided by Classic Catering. Or if a raw bar is more your style, pick up some oysters from Pearlz Oyster Bar. Sip and nibble while browsing the silent auction items, which include: 
If none of these auction items pique your interest, check out the rest of the list!

If you'd rather bid in the live auction, then you're in luck! We will be auctioning off a round of golf for three with Grammy-award winning artist Darius Rucker (yeah, the guy from Hootie and the Blowfish) and a luxurious golf getaway in the Blue Ridge Mountains at The Cliffs. You can also bid on artwork that will match perfectly with your home's decor by celebrated artist Jonathan Green.

After you've perused all of our wonderful items, stop by the honoree area and read about the 20+ people who have made a huge impact in teen pregnancy prevention South Carolina over the past 20 years and make sure to introduce yourselves when you see our honorees on the dance floor. Maybe you know some of them already!

Speaking of dance floor, grab another drink and head over to see The Root Doctors, they will be playing your favorite covers all night long! And while you're over there, make sure to duck into the Orientation Gallery and check out a video that features all of the SC Campaign's honorees of the past 20 years. 

After you've won a round of golf with Darius, danced so hard that you had to take your shoes off and filled up on delicious morsels, you may be thinking about heading over the afterparty at the Sheraton, only a couple blocks away. But don't forget to pick up your red carpet photo!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pampers & Pinot Grigio: Musings from a new mom

A little over four months ago, I met someone who completely turned my world upside down. This someone came into the world at 9.5 pounds, screaming and hollering, and showering us with his affection (literally peeing everywhere). This “someone” is my son, McSwaine (Mac) Kershner. After years of dreaming and praying, we finally met our darling little boy and my world hasn’t been the same ever since.

You see, everyone told me about the sleepless nights, the golden showers at 3am while changing a diaper and the “fourth trimester” bowl of pudding that was once my bikini-ready stomach (who am I kidding, I was never really bikini ready but I would sure as heck rock one). What no one told me about was the punch-drunk love that you feel for this screaming, hollering, pooping little hot mess. I had some rowdy days in my past but this kind of high – the high that you feel when you look out at the world from your child’s eyes, the kind of high that you feel when you snuggle up with that little butterball for an afternoon nap, the kind of high when you root in those neck-rolls and soak in that sweet baby smell – that high surpasses any street drug my friends, I am talking about the good stuff.

I was naïve to think that having a baby wouldn’t change me. It did. It totally did. I was particularly naïve to think that my husband and I would just bounce back into our social life (even though it was pretty mediocre to begin with anyway). Unfortunately bar stools don’t securely hold a car seat (I have tried) and people seem to frown upon having a baby in bar. I also find myself more cautious than ever before, always looking out for things that could potentially be a danger to Mac. My husband has always been this way, he was deployed overseas twice as a Marine and is now a State Trooper so his nature is to be overly by the mantra “better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6” (I basically married the Marlboro Man). I, on the other hand, always assumed people were good and that the world was made of fairy dust and sprinkles. But after having Mac, I won’t even pump gas with him in the car…too many crazies lurking around that might steal my baby (I have obviously watched too many Lifetime movies). I also find myself more selfish of my time; moments with Mac are limited so I have learned to say “no” to things that aren’t making positive contributions in our lives. I have also somehow managed to exponentially increase my tolerance for body excretions and other fluids that spontaneously project from a baby’s body (where does it all come from anyway!?). I have learned to chill out and not take life too seriously; I mean how can I be serious when I am not exactly confident if I remembered to put on deodorant? I have also learned to love myself the way that Mac loves me. The “fourth trimester” is real, it is this cruel joke that the universe plays on you. For nine months, I was a human tape worm eating whatever I wanted because “I was growing a baby” and then one day I have the baby and I am confused when I am holding the 9.5 pound baby but I am still carrying 60 pounds of “pregnancy weight,” I mean shouldn’t the doctors remove the nice padded muffin-top that I made
solely for the baby?!? So here I am, wearing every kind of Spanx invented but I am learning to love my body the way that my child does – without flaws or flubs - just pure love and joy. To be honest, I think Mac just views me as one big udder, so that is not helping my self-image but I am learning to love my body just the way it is (this realization is a tough one). Having a baby also changed the way I viewed other people because I am reminded those those people were once children who just needed love, attention and someone to believe in them. Just think how different our world would be if every child had someone to love them, provide for them and believe in them (cue Michael Jackson’s “We are the World”).

Having a baby is one hell of a roller coaster ride that no advice or baby book could have prepared me to experience. I still have no idea what I am doing and there are days that I have cheese balls and wine for dinner and forget to wash my hair (for four days straight). But then there are moments where I hear my sweet boy giggle or look up at me with a wide-eyed grin that make all the sleepless nights and delirious days worth it.

It is the scariest ride of my life but I keep going back for more with my hands held high in the air and my feet off the ground praying that it never ends.

by Sarah Kershner, It's Your Game Project Coordinator, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Tattoos and Teen Pregnancy?

I love analogies. Complicated ideas make more sense to me when broken down into basic, real-life applications or situations I understand, and I find myself assigning symbolic meaning to little day-to-day things. I often use analogies in my work with young people because, just like me, the analogies help them to connect with difficult concepts. That’s where my new tattoo comes in…

My newest tattoo
I’m not someone who people would really expect to have a tattoo. I’m fairly clean-cut, conservative and traditional. But I actually have 3 tattoos – each one gotten about 8 years apart. I’ll never forget the reaction my parents had when they saw my first one during my freshman year in college. Shock is the kindest word to describe it. My mom eventually said to me, “I guess I never thought to tell you not to get a tattoo.” My mom understood that while a tattoo may seem like a good idea at the moment, it’s something permanent – an image that sticks with you for life. Even with the modern miracles of laser treatment, some remainder of the tattoo always exists. Getting a tattoo is not something that should be taken lightly or decided on in the heat of the moment when it’s something you’ll live with forever.

And here’s the analogy. Sex is like that. Having sex is something that will stay with you forever. When it comes to teen pregnancy prevention, we often focus on what happens from the waist down, but there are tremendous emotional and spiritual consequences to sex as well. Connecting so intimately with another human being affects you permanently regardless of potential for pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases or use of contraception. We should be talking more about this with our young people to help them understand that having sex is not something to be taken lightly or decided on in the heat of the moment. No matter what the world around us may portray, sex is a big deal and should be treated as such.

Fortunately, I’ve never regretted any of my tattoos. Each one represents a specific period in my life and holds special meaning for me, but maybe we could use the tattoo analogy to help young people understand sex on a different level. Sex is not meant to be bad or dirty. But sex IS a big deal. It’s a permanent, forever thing that can’t be taken back. And, just like with tattoos, making the decision to have sex with someone is not a decision you want to grow up to regret.

by Dana Becker, Spartanburg Community Mobilization Coordinator, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy