Palo Alto Medical Foundation launches health information web site for 'tweens'
PALO ALTO, Calif. – Ask a group of preteens what questions they have about their health, and the answers may range from "how do I handle all this homework?" to "what's happening to my body?" A new Web site operated by the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF), an affiliate of Sutter Health, offers answers to these questions and more, providing reliable health information and resources for kids 9 to 12 years old and their parents.
The site, called "Preteen Health Talk: We're Talking, Too!" (www.pamf.org/preteen), complements PAMF's existing Web site for teens, which contains more mature health information. The teen Web site, known as "We're Talking" (www.pamf.org/teen), has received more than a million visitors from around the world since launching in 2001.
The preteen site covers topics such as puberty, exercise, nutrition, hygiene, school, stress, friendships and basic clinical issues, from nail fungus to the flu. While most of the site is written for kids, one section is dedicated to parental concerns, such as helping children handle peer pressure.
"The transition from childhood to adolescence brings with it a distinct set of challenges," said Nancy Brown, Ph.D., of PAMF's Research Institute, who coordinated development of the site. "We wanted to provide age-appropriate information to kids who are old enough to understand the physical and emotional changes they are undergoing, but still too young for the 'PG-13' content that exists on Web sites intended for older teens."
Much of the site's content comes from a group of Palo Alto-area preteens, teens and college students, who spent their summer vacations developing stories and articles. The eight-member group, which calls itself SODAH (Summer Opportunities for Developing Adolescent Health), wrote articles drawn from personal experiences with handling bullies, dealing with divorce, moving to middle school and surviving life with siblings, among other topics. The kids also contributed fun features, including recipes for do-it-yourself snacks and book and movie reviews.
"The articles we write come not from adults, but from kids experiencing this stuff real time. Other preteens can relate to what we say," said 13-year-old Julia, a SODAH member.
"As adults, we have no way to understand their reality, because life was so different for us at that age. Their contributions make the site more relevant to our target audience," Dr. Brown added.
PAMF doctors and staff members also write and review content for the site, which is overseen by the Foundation's Adolescent Interest Group of physicians, social workers, researchers and others. Local parents, teachers and community members provide feedback. In addition to PAMF's sponsorship, the site received generous support from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health.
PAMF is working with schools in the Palo Alto area to publicize the preteen Web site and get reactions from local youth, which will be used to revise the site and create new content.
The Palo Alto Medical Foundation for Health Care, Research and Education is a not-for-profit health care organization that is a pioneer in both multispecialty group practice of medicine and outpatient medicine. The foundation has three divisions: the Palo Alto Division, the Camino Division and the Santa Cruz Division. The Palo Alto Division, staffed by 290 physicians of the Palo Alto Medical Clinic, has provided a full range of care for Peninsula residents since it was founded in 1930. PAMF operates satellite clinics in Fremont, Los Altos, Redwood Shores and Portola Valley. PAMF is part of the Sutter Health family of not-for-profit hospitals and physician organizations that share resources and expertise to advance health care quality. Serving more than 100 communities in Northern California, Sutter Health is a regional leader in cardiac care as well as care of women and children, and is a pioneer in advanced patient safety technology. For more information, visit www.pamf.org.