On July 15, Knowledge SUCCESS and FP2020 launched our new webinar series, “Connecting Conversations“—a series of discussions on adolescent and youth reproductive health. Missed the first webinar? Knowledge Success has provided a recap:
Did you know, although our brains reach their adult weight when we are young children, they aren’t fully developed until our mid-20s? This affects a person’s cognitive development, emotional regulation, peer relationships, and health behavior—including voluntary contraceptive use and reproductive health.
This is just one of the many insights shared by Professor Susan Sawyer, featured speaker in the first session of the FP2020 and Knowledge SUCCESS online series “Connecting Conversations.” She is the Chair of Adolescent Health at The University of Melbourne, Director of the Centre for Adolescent Health at the Royal Children’s Hospital, and President of the International Association for Adolescent Health (IAAH). Focusing on the transformative importance of adolescence, Professor Sawyer spoke on July 15 about fascinating topics like social determinants of health for adolescents, investing in the triple dividend, and why definitions of adolescence and youth matter for policy.
Social Determinants of Health
Professor Sawyer discussed the importance of understanding the dynamic nature of young people’s social environments. Adolescence is a time when peer and media influences are strong, and social norms and transitions—from education to employment, and around families—offer a unique set of circumstances that must be accounted for as we plan programs for youth.
The “Triple Dividend”
In explaining the “triple dividend,” Professor Sawyer described the tremendous three-fold benefits of investing in adolescents. First, these investments directly result in a healthier cohort of young people. Secondly, as these young people mature, we will eventually have a healthier adult population. Finally, there are intergenerational benefits of investing in adolescents: Young women who delay childbirth into their 20s often have higher levels of education, greater agency within relationships, and healthier families…