BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Archive for January, 2018

Culture is broadly defined as people’s way of living. It reflects the method of thinking, customs and attitudes of a group of people, community or country. Culture is not constant- overtime, it evolves and changes in different ways. The speed at which culture evolves differs in different places with the odds of change increasing significantly as a result of migration.

The impact of culture on health is broad, especially for youth who may struggle with change in cultures when they migrate from one environment or location to another. Culture affects how health, illness, death, disease and approaches to health promotion, are perceived, experienced and expressed as well as where patients go to find help or the types of treatment they prefer. Everyone, including health professionals and patients, is influenced by their respective cultures while health systems in general are shaped by the mainstream beliefs of historically dominant cultures. In health systems, cultural bias may result due to differences in the perception and preferences in health-related services.

Cultural competence is a skill that creates and increases the awareness, existence and reality of the cultural differences in a group. It is practised when health professionals acknowledge and ask about various beliefs and to incorporate this awareness into patient diagnosis and treatment planning. The importance of cultural competence lies in the fact that demonstrating awareness of patients’ culture promotes trust, efficient health care, improves treatment adherence and leads to higher rates of acceptance of diagnoses.

Health is perceived through culture and all cultures have health belief systems that explain the cause and cure of illnesses. Youth health is particularly influenced, to a great extent, by how much they believe health education and promotion is relevant to their culture. This then translates to how they receive the information provided as well as how willing they are to adopt the available information. In industrialized countries such as the United States and Canada, disease is viewed as a result of natural scientific phenomena, consequently, they advocate medical treatments that combat microorganisms and use advanced and innovative technology to diagnose and treat diseases. On the other hand, some non-industrialized countries and societies such as Nigeria believe that some illnesses are a consequence of supernatural phenomena and as a result promote prayer and other spiritual interventions to combat the forces that are responsible for the diseases.

This basic difference and understanding on how culture differs between and within countries reflects culture influences youth health.

Youth and Sports



Globally, sports remain one of the most popular and widespread activities among youths and children. More so, Football and Swimming are two of the most engaging sports all over the world.

Participation in sports has important benefits for physical, psychological, and social health. Youth development programs based on sports promote a wide range of learning and life skill acquisition. Sport participation encourages a healthy and happy lifestyle and reduces common issues faced by many youths such as obesity and depression. It also fosters physical and emotional health as well as encourages valuable social connections among participants. Besides these health benefits, sport involvement teaches and allows youth to form and strengthen relationships, value self-improvement over winning, remain relevant in a competitive society and work culturally with each other and authorities. It provides opportunities for play, exercise or physical activity and self -expression, acting as a healthy alternative to negative activities such as drug abuse and crime involvement.
Research shows that high school student-athletes are less likely to drop out of school and more likely to go to college.

On an international level, sports act as a uniting force which breaks barriers of differences by creating competition and entertainment. Sport involvement reduces differences in societies and communities which makes it a powerful tool for support and conflict prevention or resolution. Furthermore, a 2008 report on Sport for Development and Peace documented that sports contribute significantly to international, national and local efforts to offer children a healthy start. Sport also equips youth with the information, skills and support needed to transit the key stages of life smoothly and successfully.

Like most good things in life, sports can have some demerits if abused. They become detrimental to health and create negative experiences if overly focused on competition and winning at all costs and disregards the healthy development of youth. These negative experiences may result in low self-esteem, lead to negative relationships, encourage poor sportsmanship, permit aggression and violence, allow discrimination or give room for psychological, sexual and commercial exploitation and abuse. In addition, youth are more susceptible to sports injury due to high degree of training and incomplete development of their musculoskeletal system. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, about 30 million children and adolescents participate in sports just in the United States. Among these participants, approximately 2 million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits, and 30,000 hospitalizations are reported each year. Common types of sports-related injuries among youth include sprains, strains and repetitive motion injuries.

To ensure that youth development remains at the center of all sports activities, sports-based youth development (SBYD) theory and practice model is used in programs to place the mental and physical health of a youth over their athletic success. This model ensures free or subsidized programming to reduce the barriers low-income youth face in accessing sports. Additionally, sports coaches should be chosen carefully, ensuring that they emphasize a positive development experience for youth.
Some successful youth icons include:
1. Katie Ledecky, Swimmer
2. Simone Biles, Gymnast
3. Jordan Spieth, Golfer
4. Evgenia Medvedeva, Skater
5. Chloe Kin, Snowboarder
6. Auston Matthews, Hockey
7. Kilian Mbapper Soccer player

Empowerment means equipping and arming people with the knowledge , potential and requirements to become independent or self sufficient in order to achieve a goal. Youth empowerment is a process where young people are encouraged, supported and equipped to take charge of their lives. Empowerment requires addressing negative or limiting situations so as to take action in order to improve access to resources and consciously transform oneself through beliefs, values, and actions. The aim of youth empowerment is to improve the quality of life of young people and increase dependence on oneself. This is achieved by creating and encouraging participation in youth empowerment programs such as training, education and information sessions or workshops.

Around the world, several youth empowerment models and programs are used to help youth achieve empowerment. These programs are available through non-profit organizations, government organizations, schools or private organizations, individual foundations. Some youths often take the initiative to empower themselves by seeking and taking advantage of these programs. Over the years, various social action and empowerment movements, including youth empowerment, educate the girl child, poverty alleviation and women empowerment spring up, and become institutionalized. Youth empowerment is often described as a marker of development, as well as a roadmap to economic growth, intergenerational equity, civic engagement and democracy building. This is because many activities such as education, business, media, rights, leadership and activism focus on the youths due to increased youth involvement in community decision-making.

The importance and benefits of youth empowerment to individuals, families, communities and nations cannot be overstated. The rationale behind empowerment is to enable participation and enhance control through shared decision making by creating opportunities to learn, practice, and increase skills. Empowerment theory predicts that engaging young people in social, knowledge-acquiring and community-enhancing activities which they define and control, allows them to gain essential skills, responsibilities, and confidence necessary to become productive and healthy adults. Youth empowerment ensures the existence of the five competencies of a healthy youth: (1) positive sense of self, (2) self- control, (3) decision-making skills, (4) a moral system of belief, and (5) pro-social connectedness.
Empowerment takes various forms and considers six interdependent areas including individual, community, organizational, economic, social and cultural.

Individual empowerment enhances individual’s consciousness by increasing awareness and knowledge of problems and solutions. This creates self-confidence and sufficiency in decision making and problem solving thereby increasing the quality of life. Community empowerment focuses on community enhancement through leadership development, communication, and networking to address community issues. Organizational empowerment creates a resource base for the community, including organizations and associations that protect, promote and advocate for the less privileged. Economic empowerment provides training and entrepreneurial skills including how have income security. Social empowerment teaches youth about social inclusion and literacy as well as promotes proactivity. Cultural empowerment highlights and emphasizes cultural practices, rules and norms.
These different forms of empowerment help to develop the youth in one or more aspects of their lives. The overall aim of youth empowerment programs is to create healthier and higher qualities of life for underprivileged and at-risk youth.

Employment is the process of being hired as employee, for a wage, salary, fee or payment to perform or carry out a task, work or job for an employer. Employment is an important marker of development, and can be used to predict how well a country is doing economically. Countries where there is low youth employment usually have very high crime rates since people will often find other means- including illegal ways, to make money.

As determined by John Maynard, unemployment like inequality, is one of the major loopholes of capitalism. Clearly, the link between unemployment and inequality rests on the fact that the inability to obtain a job results in poverty which is the major determinant of inequality resulting from class and status. Youth employment reduces crime and poverty, increases productivity, generates revenue in forms of taxes and creates a sense of responsibility and fulfilment among the youths. Employment helps youth to provide and maintain support for government projects, producing useful outputs. It also generates respect for, and feelings of self-worth in, the workers employed in these projects.

Employment offers several benefits which are available to employees based on the type, length and agreement of the employment. Eligible employees include full and part-time staff hired into permanent, probationary, temporary, term or hourly position, scheduled to work at least 20 hours per week and whose length of employment is at least six months. Some common benefits of employment include:
• Health Insurance including Dental and Vision Insurance
• Basic and Department Life Insurance
• Supplemental Life Insurance
• Disability (Short Term/Long Term) Insurance
• Deferred Compensation
• Retirement Benefits
• Pension

According to a 2012 study on employment and health, employed people showed better self-reported health and longstanding wellness or wellbeing compared to the unemployed individuals. More so, the unemployed were more likely to smoke compared to the employed. Consequently, there is need for on-going job empowerment or health promotion and vocational rehabilitation efforts targeted towards unemployed youth in order to reduce the negative health, social and economic effects associated with unemployment.