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November-December 2014 - Choose to Engage in Unselfish Service
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FACT: In 2013, 274,641 babies were born to teenage mothers in the U.S. Teen mothers are less likely to be married, behind their peers in completing their education and more apt to live in poverty—they are also more likely to have a second child within two years of their first. Teen mothers and babies have higher incidence of health problems related to pregnancy. And children born to teens have more developmental problems and are more likely to themselves end up incarcerated or as teen parents themselves.    
HOPE: Research from Andrews University reviewing results from a number of youth outreach programs showed that teens who performed community service or service learning programs were less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior and fewer teens became pregnant.  When teens fill their lives with positive behaviors, they’re less inclined toward negative ones.

FACT: More than one-third of teens in the U.S. are underage drinkers while nearly one-fourth have smoked marijuana. Nearly 16 percent smoke. 
HOPE: Teens who engage in social activities, and particularly community service, have lower rates of illicit drinking and smoking, both tobacco and marijuana, according to the Andrews study. Instead of focusing entirely on programs that entertain your children or church youth group, get them involved in reaching out to others. Plus, kids who participate in community service are more likely to do so as adults.   

FACT: For senior citizens living alone, social isolation and lack of interaction with others results in higher rates of infection, depression, mental alertness and death. 
HOPE: Seniors who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater life satisfaction and are better able to cope with loss, according to a report by the Corporation for National & Community Service.  In addition, those 65 and older who volunteer are less likely to be depressed, according to the report. As Is. 58:10 says, “If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.”

FACT: Each year, about 720,000 Americans suffer heart attacks,  more than one in five adults late 40s-late 80s experiences chronic pain,  and each year more than 795,000 people suffer from strokes .
HOPE: Volunteering lessens the impact of depression on those who have suffered from heart attacks and reduces disability and depression for those who suffer from chronic pain.5 And for a group of stroke survivors, serving as peer supporters for other stroke victims increased their feelings of usefulness and well-being and helped them reintegrate into the community following their illness.  As it turns out, helping others is a gift we give ourselves. 

References:
  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2014). Trends in teen pregnancy and childbearing. Retrieved from http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-health-topics/reproductive-health/teen-pregnancy/trends.html
  2. MedlinePlus. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001516.htm
  3. Hopkins, McBride, Featherston, Gleason & Moreno. (May, 2014). Benefits to adolescents who perform community service: a perspective from adolescent health researchers. Montana Lawyer. Retrieved from http://www.andrews.edu/services/ipa/documents-scientificpublication/montana_lawyer_may_2014.pdf
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (June, 2014) Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2013. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
  5. Hart, Donnelly, Youniss, Atkins. (March, 2007). High school community service as a predictor of adult voting and volunteering. American Educational Research Journal.
  6. Cornwell & Waite. (March, 2009). Social disconnectedness, perceived isolation and health among older adults. Journal of Health and Social Behavior. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2756979/
  7. Corporation for National & Community Service. (2007). The health benefits of volunteering. Retrieved from http://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/07_0506_hbr.pdf
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart disease facts. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
  9. Gallup. (April, 2012). Chronic pain rates shoot up until Americans reach late 50s. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/154169/chronic-pain-rates-shoot-until-americans-reach-late-50s.aspx
  10. CDC. Stroke facts. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/stroke/facts.htm
  11. Kessler, Egan & Kubina. (June, 2014). Peer support for stroke survivors: a case study. BMC Health Services Research.

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