Utah teens tackle health care problems at roundtable event in SLC

Posted at 10:50 PM, Oct 30, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-31 08:59:17-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- What are some of the biggest health care issues facing Utah teenagers? Who better to ask than teens?

On Wednesday night, there was a roundtable discussion on how to solve health problems teens face every day. The event was held at the Multicultural Unity & Fitness Center in Salt Lake City.

The teens there talked about things like obesity, cyber bullying, energy drinks and technology addiction. Their goal was to come up with health care solutions. One teenager even called on the Utah legislature to step up.

"We're just discussing topics and see how we can fix the problem," said 16-year-old Tyler Schelley.

"If you see a vegetable or a bag of chips, which one do you choose?" asked Jessica Ivie, who is 15-years-old.

"Some teenage girls have problems with things like anorexia," said 13-year-old Cassandra Ivie.

The topics ranged from eating disorders to teens drinking too many energy drinks.

"It's just insane,” Jessica said. "I hear of people drinking like three a day, and a lot of that has to do with homework because a lot of people stay up and do fun stuff and then do their homework, so they take energy drinks to stay awake.”

Michelle Bernston volunteers with Molina Healthcare and the 4-H Club, and she said they wanted to get young people involved.

"The idea is we want teens to take the lead in their community, notice a problem they want changed and think of solutions they can use to bring back into their community and fix the problem," she said.

She said teenagers in five states across the country, including Utah, are competing to come up with the best healthcare solution.

"Molina has donated a million dollars to put these events on,” she said. “The idea that they like best will be funded for five years."

So far, the ideas are good. Cassandra Ivie said when it comes to eating disorders, awareness is key.

"I'd probably do something where they'd see they are not alone and that they are not the only ones going through the things that they are,” she said.

Technology addiction was another topic teens tackled. They said it can lead to becoming the victim of cyber bullying, an issue schools still don't know how to deal with. Their suggestion? More laws.

"There's not many laws because it's so new, the technology uprising, so maybe make the same laws on bullying and cyber bullying," Jessica said.

Organizers said they should have the competition narrowed down by the end of the year.