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Guest blog: Let’s shatter the myths about drugs and alcohol

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Guest blog: Let’s shatter the myths about drugs and alcohol

By Brian Marquis, public liaison officer, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Myths about drugs and drug use are pervasive, and for young people, it can be challenging to separate fact from fiction. Out-of-school time (OST) programs can play a critical role in impacting the health and wellness of youth by helping them make choices about their health based on facts, not myths.

Popular culture can make smoking appear commonplace. But the reality is that fewer teens than ever before are smoking cigarettes. In general, young adults tend to perceive their peers as exhibiting higher rates of drug use than what is actually occurring. Data from the 2017 Monitoring the Future study, an annual survey of 8th, 10th and 12th graders on their attitudes and behaviors regarding drug, alcohol and cigarette use, tells part of the promising story. Past-year misuse of prescription opioids among 12th graders has dropped dramatically in the past 15 years, from nearly 10 percent in 2002 to 2 percent in 2017. And according to data from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, only 1 in 100 young adults between the ages of 12 and 17 currently misuse prescription opioids.

Information is power. Let’s work together to arm youth with the scientific facts about drug and alcohol use to help them make smart decisions.

Afterschool and summer programs have an opportunity to use the latest data like these to challenge young people’s misperceptions and promote a culture of knowledge about drug use and its effects. It’s time to shatter these myths about drugs and alcohol to help teens make choices about their health based on the facts. I invite you to join me for National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® (NDAFW), January 22-27, 2019, to help educate youth about the consequences of drug use on their brain, body and behavior.

What is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week?

Coordinated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, NDAFW is a week-long health observance dedicated to providing youth with the science-based facts about how drugs and alcohol affect the brain, body, and behavior. During NDAFW, hundreds of youth and youth influencers hold educational events in their communities that give teens the opportunity to learn the scientific facts about drugs and alcohol, using NIDA’s free materials designed for teens.

Here are a few activities ideas to get you started:

  1. Share NDAFW messages and images on social media (be sure to use the official hashtag #NDAFW).
  2. Post videos of youth sharing the facts about drugs and drug use on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
  3. Give youth the IQ Challenge to test their knowledge on drugs and alcohol.

It’s easy to get involved! Simply register your NDAFW event or activity online to link up with more than 2,000 others happening around the country and internationally. Need any personal assistance? I am available to help you plan a successful event. Just email me, Brian Marquis, at drugfacts@nida.nih.gov.

Be sure to check out teens.drugabuse.gov/ndafw to learn more.

Recap: Annual Out-of-School Time Advisory Coalition meeting

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BY: Marisa Paipongna      06/28/19

For effective SEL, staff need to learn new skills, too.

By Heather E. Daly, Ph.D., director of Courageous Hearts, an organization committed to educating afterschool staff with drug education and prevention content; and Normandie Nigh, chief executive officer of A World Fit for Kids, whose mission is to prepare young people for fit and...

BY: Guest Blogger      05/31/19

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re highlighting the ways afterschool programs support children and young people as they face challenges including trauma, ACEs, substance use, and beyond. Read the full series here. As Mental Health Awareness Month draws to a close, we here...

BY: Dan Gilbert      05/30/19

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By Heather E. Daly, Ph.D., director of Courageous Hearts, an organization committed to educating after school staff with drug education and prevention content; and Normandie Nigh, chief executive officer of A World Fit for Kids, whose mission is to prepare young people for fit and fulfilling...

BY: Guest Blogger      05/16/19

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      05/13/19

There’s no health without mental health. Physical activity can help.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re highlighting the ways afterschool programs support children and young people as they face challenges including trauma, ACEs, substance use, and beyond. Read the full series here. Per the World Health Organization’s summary report,...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      05/09/19

Guest blog: Self-care ideas: Give 1/Get 8

By Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH, director of Community Partnerships at Alliance for a Healthier Generation. This blog post was originally published on March 21, 2019 on the BOOST Breakfast Club blog. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re highlighting the ways afterschool...

BY: Guest Blogger      05/07/19

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re highlighting the ways afterschool programs support children and young people as they face challenges including trauma, ACEs, substance use, and beyond. Read the full series here. This is the second of a two-part series on preventing and...

BY: Erin Hegarty      05/03/19

In Alaska, prevention programming for marijuana use is a new priority

This is the first of a two-part series on preventing and responding to substance use and trauma in Alaska. The next part of the Afterschool Alliance’s conversation with Thomas Azzarella will be published in two weeks. Alaska is not like other states. For starters, it has its own time zone....

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      04/19/19

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This blog post was adapted from a program spotlight in the Afterschool Alliance issue brief, “A Big-Picture Approach to Wellness: Afterschool Supporting Strong Bodies and Minds.” Established in the late 1990s as Team-Up for Youth, Coaching Corps works to ensure that children in...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      04/01/19

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By Kelly Riding, executive director of the Utah Afterschool Network. This past January, afterschool programs staff and students joined the Utah Afterschool Network for our second Annual Afterschool Day on Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City to speak with legislators and advocate for afterschool. Many...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/12/19

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Established fields have documented their history, and now thanks to Sam Piha, Temescal Associates, and the How Kids Learn Foundation, afterschool has its own historical documentary. I have been familiar with afterschool for more than 30 years and I still learned a LOT watching the one-hour...

BY: Jodi Grant      07/02/19

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By Susan Stanton, network lead, Afterschool for Children and Teens Now (ACT Now). Afterschool programs across our nation are doing incredible work and cover a wide array of services and outcomes. Yet the diversity in programming offerings can also make it difficult for program providers to...

BY: Guest Blogger      06/24/19

Guest blog: Self-care ideas: Give 1/Get 8

By Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH, director of Community Partnerships at Alliance for a Healthier Generation. This blog post was originally published on March 21, 2019 on the BOOST Breakfast Club blog. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re highlighting the ways afterschool...

BY: Guest Blogger      05/07/19

This Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week, let’s celebrate helping students find their voice

Justin (center) and students at Loyola University in New Orleans By Justin Pinn, director, Strategic Initiatives, Teach for America Miami-Dade. In honor of Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week, the Afterschool Snack will feature stories from our Afterschool Ambassadors and other...

BY: Guest Blogger      04/25/19

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By Kareem Harris, student at Friendship Collegiate Academy and Beacon House. Comcast recently hosted a celebration of Internet Essentials at Beacon House in Northeast D.C. Internet Essentials is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive high-speed Internet adoption program, offering...

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By Archika Dogra. Archika, 16, is a high school junior at the Interlake High School in Bellevue, Washington who co-founded the EduSTEM Initiative, along with Evelyn Chen and Maya Srikanth, two juniors at Newport High School. Archika is also president of her school’s Technology Student...

BY: Guest Blogger      11/12/18

Guest blog: You are never too young to have a voice

By Kyra-Lee Harry, 4-H Collegiate Leader/National 4-H Youth Action Citizenship Pillar Winner. Growing up, I was always that student who volunteered to present, answer questions, or do something that involved interacting with my peers and using my voice. Even at a young age, I knew that I had a...

BY: Guest Blogger      09/24/18

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By Jessica Woltjen, policy & outreach manager at the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network.  When the clock strikes 3 p.m., thousands of Georgia’s youth head off to explore their interests, develop new skills, and build upon school day learning at afterschool and youth development...

BY: Guest Blogger      09/18/18

Guest blog: Branding tips your afterschool program needs to achieve success this school year

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BY: Guest Blogger      09/17/18

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By Jennifer Smith, afterschool program manager at the Center for Community Health Advancement, Marshfield Clinic Health System. Recently, schools, afterschool programs, and community-based organizations have shared the increasing numbers of disruptive and challenging youth in their programs....

BY: Guest Blogger      03/22/19

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BY: Faith Savaiano      03/05/19

Guest blog: Fresh Air Fund offers city kids new experiences, connections every summer

By Alexis De La Rosa, an alum of The Fresh Air Fund in New York City. Alexis is a senior at Middlebury College in Vermont, and in Fall 2018, he studied abroad at Oxford. Alexis spent his summers with a Fresh Air Fund volunteer host family in Connecticut from the age of 7. Diversity, challenges,...

BY: Guest Blogger      01/29/19

Afterschool Heals Tennessee: A Q&A on the opioid crisis

To help shatter the myths during National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, we bring you a story of how an afterschool state network is leveraging afterschool programs to support children, youth, families, and communities facing the opioid and substance use epidemic. In this Q&A with the...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      01/25/19

The Body Project: Q&A on a body positivity afterschool program

The Body Project is a group-based intervention program facilitated through NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association) that provides young girls the forum to push back against the body ideal and engage in the development of healthy body images. This body acceptance education curriculum has proven...

BY: Erin Hegarty      11/20/18

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Identity in Montgomery County, Maryland, is no stranger to afterschool and summer learning. The organization acts as a safe and enriching community for Latino children and their families to receive all the tools they need to be successful in school and in life. This summer, Identity programs are...

BY: Dayna Hood      08/21/18

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In a new SolutionSERIES brief, “New Federal Opportunities to Advance Two-Generation Approaches to Improving the Lives of Children and Parents,” Ascend at the Aspen Institute explores new funding and policy developments that can strengthen two-generation (2Gen) system...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      07/23/18

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BY: Arielle Kahn      06/19/18

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By Sheila Savannah, director of mental health and wellbeing at Prevention Institute. Originally featured in a May 3 email, this blog was reposted with permission from the Prevention Institute.   May is Mental Health Month—an opportunity to take a fresh look at...

BY: Guest Blogger      05/15/18

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By Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH, Director, Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio. Did you know that 1 in 4 kids drink no water in a day? Latino kids drink less water than their white peers. They also are more likely to perceive tap water as unsafe, and drink more sugary drinks, our research...

BY: Guest Blogger      03/30/18

For effective SEL, staff need to learn new skills, too.

By Heather E. Daly, Ph.D., director of Courageous Hearts, an organization committed to educating afterschool staff with drug education and prevention content; and Normandie Nigh, chief executive officer of A World Fit for Kids, whose mission is to prepare young people for fit and...

BY: Guest Blogger      05/31/19

Connecting the dots: Mental health and SEL in afterschool

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re highlighting the ways afterschool programs support children and young people as they face challenges including trauma, ACEs, substance use, and beyond. Read the full series here. As Mental Health Awareness Month draws to a close, we here...

BY: Dan Gilbert      05/30/19

Help youth build empathy & earn an Amazon gift card

Looking for ways to engage your students with peers from different backgrounds to build social emotional skills? Look no further. Empatico connects groups of students ages 6-11 with peers domestically and around the world. Through a combination of live video and activities, youth have the...

BY: Alex Crooks      05/24/19

A deeper approach to drug use prevention

By Heather E. Daly, Ph.D., director of Courageous Hearts, an organization committed to educating after school staff with drug education and prevention content; and Normandie Nigh, chief executive officer of A World Fit for Kids, whose mission is to prepare young people for fit and...

BY: Guest Blogger      05/21/19

There’s no health without mental health. Physical activity can help.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re highlighting the ways afterschool programs support children and young people as they face challenges including trauma, ACEs, substance use, and beyond. Read the full series here. Per the World Health Organization’s summary report,...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      05/09/19

Afterschool and ACEs: How Alaska promotes a trauma-engaged response

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re highlighting the ways afterschool programs support children and young people as they face challenges including trauma, ACEs, substance use, and beyond. Read the full series here. This is the second of a two-part series on preventing and...

BY: Erin Hegarty      05/03/19

In Alaska, prevention programming for marijuana use is a new priority

This is the first of a two-part series on preventing and responding to substance use and trauma in Alaska. The next part of the Afterschool Alliance’s conversation with Thomas Azzarella will be published in two weeks. Alaska is not like other states. For starters, it has its own time zone....

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      04/19/19

Promising practices: Coaching Corps’ strategy physical & social-emotional health

This blog post was adapted from a program spotlight in the Afterschool Alliance issue brief, “A Big-Picture Approach to Wellness: Afterschool Supporting Strong Bodies and Minds.” Established in the late 1990s as Team-Up for Youth, Coaching Corps works to ensure that children in...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      04/01/19

Q&A: Delivering SEL programming in Minneapolis

For this post, Nikki Yamashiro, director of research at the Afterschool Alliance, spoke with Hayley Tompkins, Beacons Network Specialist with the Minneapolis Beacons Network, about Beacons’ work to deliver social and emotional learning opportunities through their programs. This...

BY: Nikki Yamashiro      01/03/19

Green Bay BGCA's advice for strong SEL programming

For this post, Dan Gilbert, project manager at the Afterschool Alliance, spoke with Eric Vanden Heuvel, chief academic officer, and Kaitlyn Endries, director of social emotional learning, from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay, about their work to deliver social and emotional...

BY: Dan Gilbert      12/03/18

Promising practices: Coaching Corps’ strategy physical & social-emotional health

This blog post was adapted from a program spotlight in the Afterschool Alliance issue brief, “A Big-Picture Approach to Wellness: Afterschool Supporting Strong Bodies and Minds.” Established in the late 1990s as Team-Up for Youth, Coaching Corps works to ensure that children in...

BY: Charlotte Steinecke      04/01/19

Advancing equity in children's health: New messaging resource!

The Afterschool Alliance has released an Out-of-School Time (OST) Health Equity Messaging Resource in collaboration with Voices for Healthy Kids and We-Collab. Designed to be used in conjunction with the Voices for Healthy Kids Health Equity for Public Policy Messaging Guide, the OST Health Equity...

BY: Marisa Paipongna      01/31/19

5 tips for a fun and healthy winter break

This post is part of Healthier Generation’s #HealthyHolidays blog series, highlighting healthy ways to celebrate and enjoy the holiday season at home, school, and work. This post originally appeared on HealthierGeneration.org. View all posts in the #HealthyHolidays series here. The...

BY: Guest Blogger      12/20/18

Beacon House, Comcast help students thrive in Northeast D.C.

By Kareem Harris, student at Friendship Collegiate Academy and Beacon House. Comcast recently hosted a celebration of Internet Essentials at Beacon House in Northeast D.C. Internet Essentials is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive high-speed Internet adoption program, offering...

BY: Guest Blogger      11/30/18

NAA Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards streamlined in version 2.0

By Heidi Ham, Vice President, Programs and Strategy at National AfterSchool Association. Studies show that healthy, active children learn better, perform better academically and experience fewer behavioral problems. Afterschool and summer learning programs are well-positioned to be key partners...

BY: Guest Blogger      09/14/18

In Baltimore, kids conquer uneven bars and bar graphs

To be able to guess what the students in the Barclay After School Program are doing for the three hours after the last bell rings, you’d have to keep up with a diverse and ever-rotating schedule of activities, from STEM contests to photography lessons, from arts programming to...

BY: Faith Savaiano      07/20/18

Guest blog: 2018 state report cards on active kids and communities

By Margaux Mennesson, marketing and communications manager at Safe Routes to School National Partnership. A new report out from the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and the Y, Making Strides: 2018 State Report Cards on Support for Walking, Bicycling, and Active Kids and Communities,...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/17/18

Positive female role models: 5 voices from healthy afterschool

By Daniel W. Hatcher, MPH, director of community partnerships, Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Active kids learn better, but did you know that girls today are far less likely than boys to achieve the recommended amounts of physical activity? Healthier Generation’s #GirlsAre campaign...

BY: Guest Blogger      05/31/18

HEPA success story: Uniting stakeholders is key to victory

When Sheree Vodicka first heard of legislation passed in California to establish healthy out-of-school time (OST) programs, she realized there may be an opportunity to replicate that in North Carolina. As a recipient of the YMCA of the USA’s Pioneering Healthier Communities grant...

BY: Faith Savaiano      04/06/18

HEPA Success Story: The Alliance of New York State YMCAs

In recent years, many states across the country have started to seek government support to enact policies aimed at increasing healthy practices in out-of-school time environments. While many of these efforts are just beginning, few advocates have seen as much immediate success as the Alliance...

BY: Faith Savaiano      01/29/18

Views from VISTAs: Updates from June 2019

AmeriCorps’ Volunteers In Service To America (VISTA) work to alleviate poverty by providing indirect service to their communities. Our afterschool VISTAs and the work they do are essential to the expansion of afterschool access for the children who need it most, especially in the fields...

BY: Marisa Paipongna      07/15/19

The key to incredible STEM learning in libraries? Strong community connections.

For this post, Dan Gilbert, project manager at the Afterschool Alliance, spoke with Megan Burton, STEM and learning supervisor at the Kitsap Regional Library, about their efforts to provide family engagement, STEM learning, and afterschool and out-of-school time learning...

BY: Guest Blogger      03/28/19

Los Angeles libraries spark STEM learning and family engagement in OST

For this post, Dan Gilbert, project manager at the Afterschool Alliance, spoke with Eva Mitnick, director of the Engagement and Learning Division of the Los Angeles Public Library, about the library’s efforts to provide family engagement, STEM learning, and afterschool and...

BY: Dan Gilbert      02/28/19

In the field: Stand-out examples of quality STEM programming

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BY: Leah Silverberg      02/14/19

The 2018 Computer Science Education Week is almost here!

“I personally do not have a computer science background, so much of my experience has been learning alongside my students and talking with them about their interests and motivations.” Last year’s CS Education Week didn’t prevent teachers and staff from trying their hand at...

BY: Chris Neitzey      11/29/18

Youth voice: The power of STEM learning opportunities

By Archika Dogra. Archika, 16, is a high school junior at the Interlake High School in Bellevue, Washington who co-founded the EduSTEM Initiative, along with Evelyn Chen and Maya Srikanth, two juniors at Newport High School. Archika is also president of her school’s Technology Student...

BY: Guest Blogger      11/12/18

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By Katie Lisowski, manager of Digital Education Partnerships at Discovery Communications.  Afterschool programs provide such unique opportunities to reach and inspire students. There’s freedom for students to try new things and explore the unknown without the pressures often felt...

BY: Guest Blogger      07/26/18

In Baltimore, kids conquer uneven bars and bar graphs

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BY: Faith Savaiano      07/20/18

From afterschool to geophysicist

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BY: Charlotte Steinecke      05/08/18

Webinar recap: Exploring the environment in afterschool

Earth Day 2018 has passed, but it is never too late to share an appreciation of our planet with environmental science education in your afterschool program. Teaching environmental science is a great way to help students develop core science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills —...

BY: Leah Silverberg      04/30/18

5 tips for a fun and healthy winter break

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BY: Guest Blogger      12/20/18

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BY: Erik Peterson      09/25/18

NAA Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards streamlined in version 2.0

By Heidi Ham, Vice President, Programs and Strategy at National AfterSchool Association. Studies show that healthy, active children learn better, perform better academically and experience fewer behavioral problems. Afterschool and summer learning programs are well-positioned to be key partners...

BY: Guest Blogger      09/14/18

Summer meals are vital for children, but meal participation continues to decrease

Far too many children lose access to nutritious school meals when the school year ends, according to Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report, released June 13 by the Food Research & Action Center. The report finds that only 3 million children received a...

BY: Erik Peterson      06/22/18

HEPA success story: Uniting stakeholders is key to victory

When Sheree Vodicka first heard of legislation passed in California to establish healthy out-of-school time (OST) programs, she realized there may be an opportunity to replicate that in North Carolina. As a recipient of the YMCA of the USA’s Pioneering Healthier Communities grant...

BY: Faith Savaiano      04/06/18

The need to enhance kids' access to water in and out of school

By Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH, Director, Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio. Did you know that 1 in 4 kids drink no water in a day? Latino kids drink less water than their white peers. They also are more likely to perceive tap water as unsafe, and drink more sugary drinks, our research...

BY: Guest Blogger      03/30/18

Afterschool programs can play a big role in childhood nutrition

By Crystal FitzSimmons, director of school and out-of-school time programs at Food Research & Action Center. Hooray! It’s National Nutrition Month. Time to celebrate the important role that afterschool programs are and can play in supporting good nutrition among the children they...

BY: Guest Blogger      03/23/18

Two ways afterschool programs are feeding hungry kids

By Sukhjit Dhaliwal, Expanded Learning Opportunities VISTA for School's Out Washington. Childhood hunger is an unfortunate reality that reaches many parts of the United States. Many of our nation’s children and youth who rely on free and reduced-price school breakfast and lunches...

BY: Guest Blogger      03/13/18

HEPA Success Story: The Alliance of New York State YMCAs

In recent years, many states across the country have started to seek government support to enact policies aimed at increasing healthy practices in out-of-school time environments. While many of these efforts are just beginning, few advocates have seen as much immediate success as the Alliance...

BY: Faith Savaiano      01/29/18

How to make afterschool health and wellness resolutions a reality

At the beginning of each year, most of us set personal goals that we would like to accomplish. Although the list of New Year’s resolutions vary from person to person, eating better and exercising more are two of the most popular resolutions we make. As we start the year, let’s not only...

BY: Tiereny Lloyd      01/08/18