Access to sex ed makes an excellent holiday gift ;-)

Hello Real Talk community,

We hope that you had a great Thanksgiving holiday! We celebrated in New York, Massachusetts and D.C. and can’t believe that we’re only weeks away from the winter holidays. In the coming months, our goal is to bring Real Talk to 5000 teens in the counties across America with the least access to sex ed by Valentine’s Day 2018. And we’re ready to start now!

As we approach #GivingTuesday, we ask that you check out our updated website.

In November, we launched several app updates to our Real Talk beta app (download here). The updates make the beta faster and you can now submit your own story and share the app with friends. Hundreds of teens from over 22 states and more than 11 countries have accessed our app and their feedback continues to help us improve the app experience. In particular, we want to thank Deborah Levine, Andy Milne, and Laura Steenburgen for working with us to reach teens through their organizations and schools in the past few weeks. Do you have a group of teens who you think would be interested in trying out Real Talk as part of our pilot study? Please email Liz at liz@myhealthed.org for more information.

Since our last blog post, our Real Talk team has also been featured in the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 list (in the Social Entrepreneurs category), The Daily Tar Heel, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy’s blog, and VICE Broadly.

In the coming weeks, we will work with teens from near and far to learn as much as we can from them before the holiday season. Please let us know (by emailing Liz at liz@myhealthed.org) if you have any teens we should include in our pilot testing!

Cheers,

Liz, Vichi & Cristina

Liz ChenComment
"Guys have breast buds too..." and a request for pilot study teens

Heyo Real Talk community,

The past month has passed quickly and we’re excited to share updates from our Fast Forward Demo Days, our workshop at the American School Health Association annual conference, and a few radio highlights.

On September 26th and 27th, we unveiled our beta version of Real Talk to attendees at Fast Forward’s Demo Days in San Francisco and Redwood City. Google.org, thanks for being a new Real Talk supporter! While in the Bay Area, Cristina also demoed our app for abc 7 news and Vichi delivered our three-minute pitch...twice (check out her pitch here).

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On September 30th, Real Talk was featured on NPR’s Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me! segment, highlighting our use of emojis and how we make parents’ lives easier. Then, on October 2nd, Liz and Vichi recorded a radio interview with YOUR HEALTH ® that aired this past weekend about the release of our beta app.

Later in October, Liz and Cristina traveled to St. Louis, MO to present at the annual American School Health Association (ASHA) conference where we connected with health educators, school nurses, school administrators, health department officials, and nonprofit leaders. Workshop attendees tried Real Talk for themselves and then were asked to complete the following sample activity for teens that they could use in a classroom setting:

Instructions: In the Real Talk app, search for “breast buds” and “bra”. Read the stories that come up and click on the links that take you to additional resources on the topics. When you have completed this, answer the following questions:

  1. A bra size is made up of numbers and letters. What do the numbers stand for? What do the letters stand for?
  2. What causes gynecomastia? How long does it take for pubertal gynecomastia to go away?

Try it out! While we spend the majority of our time collaborating with middle school students, we welcome feedback from adults like you, so email us at founders@myhealthed.org with questions or comments about our beta app.

In the next few weeks, we plan to release an updated version of our beta app that includes improvements (bug fixes, increased speed through pagination) as well as new features (share the app, submit a story). Over the next few months, we will be conducting controlled pilot tests of our beta app with teens through partner organizations and schools. We want to gather feedback quickly from teens so that we can continue to improve our beta ASAP. Do you have a group of teens who you think would be interested in trying out Real Talk as part of our pilot study? Please email Liz at liz@myhealthed.org for more information.

Again, thank you for your continued support and we will be in touch once our update is available through the App Store!

Cheers,

Liz, Vichi & Cristina

Liz ChenComment
Real Talk Launches in Beta to Increase Teens’ Access to Sex Education Through Text-Based Storytelling

With $400,000 in philanthropic seed funding, Real Talk launches the first ever app for improved middle school sex education through text message-based storytelling

September 26, 2017 (Chapel Hill, N.C.) – Today Real Talk, a mobile app that provides critical sexual health information to middle schoolers through real stories by real teens, launches in Beta on iOS. Real Talk delivers crowdsourced stories about healthy relationships, puberty, and sexual health in a revolutionary format: text message conversations.

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Real Talk launches at a critical time: 37 states do not require medically accurate sex education in schools, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services just cut over $200 million in funding for teen pregnancy prevention, which will result in even fewer sexual health resources available to teens.

Real Talk’s educational, youth-derived stories are reviewed by public health professionals before publishing, and are presented as text message conversations in the app. Teens feel most comfortable learning about sexual health in a private setting - like their phones - and feel better when they know others are going through the same situations. Users can support others in the app through emoji reactions, search for topics relevant to them, and access links to high quality sexual health resources online if they want to learn more.

As an 8th grade student at KIPP Gaston College Prep in Gaston, North Carolina, Demonte Edwards said, “Some people really don’t have the confidence to talk to your parents about it. So this is a good place you can come to to get advice.”

Years of research and hundreds of interviews with middle schoolers informed their strategy. After successfully pilot testing with students in North Carolina, the team is ready to expand through a public beta launch. This will allow more teens to access the app and provide feedback to develop better content and more robust features. Results from this beta launch will help Real Talk hone in on the most important features as they continue building out the product over the next several months.

“Having lived and worked in areas with little to no access to sex education, I’ve seen first hand the impact this has on youth,” says Cristina Leos, a co-founder of Real Talk. “With only 50% of teen mothers receiving a high school diploma by the time they turn 22, this was an issue we couldn’t ignore. Real Talk presents sex education in a way that resonates with middle-school students, by meeting them on their phones and showing them they are not alone.”

Real Talk was founded by a team of women - Cristina Leos, Vichi Jagannathan, and Liz Chen - and to date has been supported by prominent organizations like the Office of Adolescent Health (Grant number: TP2AH000023-02-00), The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, the Aetna Foundation, and Fast Forward, with a total of $465,000 in funding. Real Talk’s parent organization, MyHealthEd, Inc., is dedicated to improving youth health education through technology.

For more information, visit www.realtalkapp.com.

About MyHealthEd, Inc. MyHealthEd, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to improving youth health education through technology. MyHealthEd, Inc. was founded in 2016 by Liz Chen, Cristina Leos, and Vichi Jagannathan, in efforts to increase access to sex education in low-income and rural communities. The organization is based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. For more information, visit www.myhealthed.org.

Media Contact: Vichi Jagannathan, Co-Founder Email: founders@realtalkapp.com Phone: (845) 702-6802

Liz ChenComment
Story Preview and Plans for Beta Release

Hello Real Talk community,

As we get ready to release our beta version of Real Talk in the Apple App Store in September (just in time for our Demo Days as part of the Fast Forward accelerator), we’ve been engaging with teens and others in the sex ed world to figure out how sex ed can be improved, especially in a world where technology is readily available. Recently, we were interviewed by POPSUGAR for a piece on how sex ed in schools is failing kids. Real Talk was featured in addition to other great resources like Amaze.org and Sex, Etc. With federal funding cuts to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP), thousands of teens across the country will likely lose access to comprehensive sex ed through normal channels like schools. Now more than ever, there is a need for Real Talk and other digital resources, to reach teens where they’re at -- on their phones.

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Here at MyHealthEd, Inc., we’re committed to elevating the voices of middle school students. We have convened our inaugural Teen Advisory Board for Real Talk with volunteer middle school students who have decision-making power with regards to app design and content. We also collect and curate stories written by real middle school students from around the country. Check out a few of the submitted stories below:

Previous marching season, it was my first season ever marching since I'm a freshman. I made first chair, and this boy that I started out disliking was my rival, since we were both the best. Well, we ended up getting close. We were lowkey a thing, because we'd always hold hands, cuddle, and go everywhere together. He told my sister that he liked me, and that I was one of the only people he'd cry for if I died. I told him how I liked him in December, over Christmas break. He told me that he knows it sucks liking someone and them not liking you back, and then when I told him that I get that he likes someone else he said "How would you know whether I liked you back or not?" I'm not sure if the reaction was healthy or not, but I know it confused me. Even now I still like that boy. We're best friends, and things are still confusing. He gets mad if I call other boys cute and if I walk with other people, and I go over to his house like every other weekend. I just feel clueless, not knowing what we are. -- Male, 13

Well, my period cramps are so severe I have to get medication from the doctor. It makes me break out all along my forehead. i am going through puberty a little later, but for the most part I am on track. Everyone seems so on top of their health and routines and I am DEFINITELY not. The cramps suck because they make me cry but the acne on my forehead makes me extremely self-conscious. I've heard that there are face washes that I'll try to make my skin less oily so imma gonna try that. -- Female, 13

We’ll be working hard in the next month to prepare our beta version of Real Talk for an initial release in September. We look forward to sharing the news when we’re available in the Apple App Store!

Best, Liz, Vichi & Cristina

Liz ChenComment
Real Talk: Welcome to our journey

Hello Real Talk community,

Eighteen months ago, we embarked on a journey to bring high quality comprehensive sex education to middle school students in low-income and rural communities of color across the country. In January 2016, we were named finalists in the Innovation Next accelerator of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. In the months that followed, we gained design thinking skills from IDEO, talked with hundreds of middle school students, and incorporated as a new nonprofit, MyHealthEd, Inc. Now, we are in the midst of developing our Real Talk app. We plan to have our beta released to the Apple App Store later in 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the past year and a half, we have been fortunate to garner support from many partners, including The National Campaign, InnovateHealth Yale, The Aetna Foundation, and Fast Forward. In an effort to streamline communications with our funders, stakeholders, supporters, and users, we have decided to start this blog. Through the blog, we plan to share updates, solicit feedback, and welcome new ideas.

If you are receiving this inaugural blog post, that means that we have crossed paths along this journey or that you have expressed interest in the Real Talk app. Either way, thank you for your support and we look forward to connecting with you soon!

Liz, Vichi & Cristina

Liz Chen