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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category


Survey of GWHS students shows surprising data about underage drinking

Peer Pressure.

It’s a common theme in high school, when adolescents are struggling to define their identities and in the process, can find themselves in situations where they feel pressured by their peers to conform to popular behaviors which sometimes extend to the use of alcohol.

Early in the 2013-2014 school year, a small group of seven George Washington High School students known as the Washington Positive Peer Pressure Group (WPX3), conducted a survey among their peers about underage drinking.

What they found was that perception was definitely not reality when it came to the actual drinking habits of their classmates.

The survey, whose intent was to discover the truth about students’ relationships with underage drinking, was completed by 350 students or 15% of the student body at George Washington High School.

“We chose this topic for our survey because we felt like there were a lot of stereotypes out there associating high school students and frequent drinking,” the group wrote in their survey summary.

What they found was that GWHS students engaged in underage drinking at a far lower rate than what their peers perceived.

When respondents were asked how often they consumed alcohol in the past 12 months, 60% answered “Never”. Surprisingly, when students were asked a similar question about how frequently they perceived their peers to drink alcohol, less than 6% of students thought their peers “Never” drank alcohol in the past year.

What drives such a large gap between perception and reality? One culprit could be the media. TV shows and movies about teenagers frequently show party scenes with alcohol and binge drinking. This sort of unhealthy behavior glamorized in the media negatively brands youth and creates a general assumption that many students frequently drink alcohol – even among high school students themselves.

The survey also asked respondents what usually pressures them to drink alcohol or think about drinking alcohol. 68.9% answered that they “never feel pressured to drink alcohol”. And when asked where they get information about underage drinking from, 41% answered “Teachers”, followed by “Internet” (29%) and “Parents” (28%).

The survey results spawned a “Positive Social Norms Campaign” on campus led by WXP3 to highlight the surprising data. The group has placed posters around campus with key messages like “FACT CHECK! Over half of students at GWHS have never used alcohol in the past year!” and “Yo teachers! We get most of our information about underage drinking from you. Keep talking, we’re listening!”

They’ve also set up social media channels to facilitate conversations around topics like “What are the positive things you do to avoid the pressure to drink?” Local businesses near the school have also been asked to put up campaign posters.

GWHS Principal Ericka Lovrin was very supportive of the students’ survey and campaign.

“Their efforts are extremely valuable because the students worked hard to bring out accurate data that reflects what’s actually happening at school versus what the media puts out about teenagers,” Lovrin said.

“This work is important to us because it gives us the opportunity to change stereotypes about high school students. We want to change the norms that encourage and perpetuate underage drinking by sharing the realities and positive choices youth are making,” WXP3 wrote.

The WPX3 group is funded by the Youth Leadership Institute, a program of the Department of Public Health. Amanda Trescott, a Program Assistant for the Youth Leadership Institute, says the Social Norms campaign is a 5 year program.

“We are currently in year 4 out of 5 of program implementation. After the 5th year, data results will be compared to evaluate the trends over time to see what changes occurred among the students who attend GWHS as a result of this program,” Trescott said.

Download “Reality Check – GWHS Students Don’t Drink As Much As You Think”

Sarah B.

10:17 am | Posted under Health, Schools | Comments Off

E. coli outbreak at Burma Superstar; restaurant voluntarily closes for weekend

On Friday, the Health Department released a statement confirming an E. coli outbreak that sickened 14 people in San Francisco, many of whom had eaten at Burma Superstar around August 16th or 17th.

It’s the first such incident for the popular Clement Street restaurant, which has been in business for 17 years and always has a long line of customers waiting for a table.

The restaurant voluntarily closed on Friday for the weekend, and posted a letter on their windows for customers.

The letter includes a statement from Burma Superstar owner Desmond Tan, saying “we are confident any exposure has been eliminated”. Tan goes on to say that he voluntarily decided to close the restaurant for Labor Day weekend, but will re-open on Monday, September 2.

Alongside Tan’s statement is one from Tomas J. Aragon, a San Francisco Health Officer. In it, he wrote “Based on our current investigation, our preliminary conclusion is that there is no ongoing risk to the public’s health”. He also said the restaurant will remain open.

According to Aragon’s statement, the strain of E. coli found in those who became sick was E. coli O157, which can cause severe illness, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. E. coli, formally known as Escherichia coli, is typically transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animals or persons (Center for Disease Control).

Burma Superstar has two other locations in the Bay Area – Oakland and Alameda – and owner Desmond Tan also owns and operates two other restaurants just down the block on Clement Street – B Star Cafe and Eats.

Sarah B.

A passerby stops to read the E. coli notice posted on the windows of Burma Superstar

1:31 pm | Posted under Business, Food, Health | 14 comments

Free Health and Wellness Fair at the RDNC, July 25

This Thursday from 10am until 1pm, the Richmond District Neighborhood Center is hosting their first Health and Wellness Fair.

The event is organized by the students of the summer Junior Nurses Program, a RDNC program designed to give high school students an idea of what to expect in nursing school.

The fair will offer free information on stroke, seizure, heart attack, and diabetes, and will also feature booths from the Institute of Aging and the Richmond Village Beacon.

Junior Nurses Program organizer Abigail Pejoro tells us, “the high school students are doing the health fair to utilize what they’ve learned in the program in a healthcare setting – the community. Students will showcase what we’ve taught them by doing various health teachings and assessments. It will be supervised by student nurses and registered nurses to ensure that the students are providing accurate information and doing assessments properly. We will also answer any questions that the high school students may not be able to answer.”

The fair takes place this Thursday from 10am until 1pm at the Richmond District Neighborhood Center, 741 30th Avenue between Balboa and Cabrillo.

Sarah B.

3:10 pm | Posted under Events, Health | Comments Off

Free “Healthier Living Workshops” begin June 29; in English & Mandarin

Healthier Living Program Coordinator Ken Wong and Supervisor Eric Mar at the
Richmond District Community Health Festival on May 14, 2011

Starting Saturday, June 29, the Richmond District YMCA (360 18th Avenue) will host a series of free “Healthier Living Workshops”, designed to help people with chronic conditions like arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, and other chronic conditions.

Workshops at the YMCA will be offered in English, and the same curriculum will be offered in Mandarin Chinese at the Richmond District Police Station (461 6th Avenue).

Classes can help participants and their caregivers improve quality of life. At the workshops, participants will learn how to:

  • Manage pain, stress, and fatigue
  • Be more fit and eat healthier
  • Work more effectively with your doctor and healthcare professionals
  • Set goals and problem solve to make positive changes in your life
  • Feel better and reduce your healthcare costs

The classes were developed by the Stanford University School of Medicine and are hosted by the SF Department of Aging and Adult Services.

Classes will be held every Saturday beginning June 29 for 6 weeks, with the last class on August 3rd. English classes will be at the Richmond District YMCA from 10am until 12:30pm; Mandarin classes will be at the Richmond District Police Station from 9:30am until 12noon.

It’s free to participate, but pre-registration is required. For English call the Richmond District YMCA at 415-666-9622. For Mandarin, call Wan Na Yu at 415-775-5052.

Sarah B.

5:18 am | Posted under Classes, Health | Comments Off

Shed some lunchtime calories with “BollyBurn” at the Geary Dance Center

We got an email this week from Satish Panchal, the instructor for a new class at the Geary Dance Center called “BollyBurn”. Ho hum, we thought. But then we visited the site, saw the videos, and became very intrigued.

The website says, “BollyBurn is a fun, high intensity, dance-cardio, workout set to Bollywood music, that is suitable for dancers and non-dancers alike. The routines are choreographed for all fitness levels and age groups. The class is suited to those looking for an intense calorie burn, to sweat and engage/strengthen the core. BollyBurn is a total body workout and addresses hip, back and shoulder mobility.”

This looks fun! And a lot easier than the choreographed Bollywood movie dance scenes we’ve seen. ;)

Satish currently teaches just one class a week on Mondays at 12noon, but says he plans to add more classes if there is interest.

BollywoodBurn takes place at the Geary Dance Center, located at 5036 Geary. The cost is $15 per class. If that time doesn’t work for you, Satish also teaches BollyBurn at other locations and times in the city.

If you make it out to a class, let us know if you were able to tap into your inner Bollywood god or goddess!

Sarah B.

5:20 am | Posted under Health | 1 comment

Local links: Fairy door website, free yoga, weapons seized, street history & more

Sundays in GGP by Methanie Dempsay Binder | April 2013 | Copyright 2013

Happy Friday to all! We hope you’ve been out enjoying this incredible weather. Here are a few local links to kick off what we hope is a great weekend. – Sarah B.

  • Everyone’s favorite elf/fairy door in the Golden Gate Park Concourse now has its own website at faerydoor.net. It’s run by the father and son duo who first installed the door. They’ve already responded to some of the fan mail that’s been left at the door. We were also told another door is in the works for the park – keep your eyes open out there!
  • Need to relieve stress and decompress? Head over to the Richmond District Neighborhood Center on Saturday mornings for free yoga. Classes take place from 10–11:30am at the RDNC headquarters, 741 30th Ave.
  • History buffs, this one is for you! Ever wondered why our streets are named the way they are? San Francisco native Noah Veltman created an interactive map that lets you find out the history behind our street names. For instance did you know Geary Boulevard was named for John W. GEary, first mayor of San Francisco, elected in 1850?
  • Canine wishes: Blog reader Henry P. sent us this earlier in the week – “I would like to ask your permission to post a message of sincere gratitude to our Richmond district neighbors who helped our rescued and much-loved family dog, Mosby, as it passed away on Geary and 25th, due to a traffic accident. I really would like to convey our thanks to the kindness of strangers, despite our pain.” R.I.P Mosby :(
  • We’re hearing about two business closures in the neighborhood. Fredy’s Deli on La Playa out by the beach has been closed for over two months, despite a sign saying that they would reopen last month. Readers tell us they heard the owner, Fredy, is ill. Let’s hope he gets well soon and reopens – folks miss his little deli! We also got word from reader Derek that the Java Source Coffee House on Clement near 5th is either closed for good or remodeling. That place has always been a bit of a mystery to us…
  • One gun leads to another… SFAppeal reported this week on an arrest in Foster City that led police to an extensive weapons stash in the Richmond District. “A subsequent search of a San Francisco residence in the 3000 block of Cabrillo Street yielded two more assault rifles, one rifle, one shotgun, 12 revolvers and semi-automatic handguns of various calibers, and approximately 10,000 rounds of ammunition.”
  • The Examiner stopped by Trad’r Sams on Geary to interview bartender Fred Sor about their drinks, patrons and Asian movie nights. “Q: Do you get any “crusty, old salt”-type characters? A: Well we usually open by noon, so yeah, some of those.”
4:11 pm | Posted under Business, Crime, Golden Gate Park, Health, Pets | 9 comments

Bright1Fitness offering group classes in Mt. Lake Park, Presidio & GGP

Bright1Fitness members workout in the shadow of the Golden Gate during a Saturday class

Last weekend, I tried out a new group fitness class that is starting up in Mt. Lake Park, the Presidio and Golden Gate Park. It’s called Bright1Fitness and it’s headed up by Brighton Miller, a Richmond District resident and personal trainer.

Miller has been a fitness trainer for 5 years, including work as a group fitness instructor for local bootcamps. She chose the Richmond District to base her business because it’s close to home and the surroundings fit in well with her philosophy on how to make fitness more fun.

“I love to use our amazing city as a gym – hills, stairs, beaches, parks – which is all right in our own backyard here in the Richmond District,” Miller says.

I attended the 9am class last Saturday, which meets at Immigrant Point in the Presidio, just above Baker Beach (and a quick walk up from the 14th or 15th Avenue gates near Lake Street).

It was a crisp, clear day and we started out with a vigorous warm-up jog that took us down stairs through eucalyptus trees, along a trail to a bunker overlooking the Pacific, further down some stairs to the practically secret Marshall Beach, and then back up to the road. I was huffing and puffing while taking in the gorgeous vistas – but so was everyone else.

“One of the benefits of a group outdoor class is that you’re motivated by the people around you,” Miller says. “I’ve seen people in my classes discover new talents because they were pushed by others to try new things.”

After our warm-up run, we each grabbed a “sand bell”, which are neoprene bags filled with pounds of sand (in this case filled with the very best local sand from Ocean Beach). Miller has them in 15, 20 and 25 pound increments for every fitness level. Sand bells are often compared to kettle bells but they are way more versatile – and less dangerous if you whack yourself in the leg or accidentally drop it on your toe. ;)

We slung the sand bells on our shoulders and walked down to the bunker which offered spectacular views of Baker Beach and Lands End to the left, and the towering Golden Gate Bridge to our right. This is called working out with one of the best views in the world.

Miller’s workouts always include a high intensity, short interval section which is designed to increase your endurance and build strength. The workouts are comprised of a set of exercises that you do for repetitions or for time, trying to complete as many sets as you can over a 10-20 minute period.

At Saturday’s workout, we had four things to complete in each round: pushups, squat thrusts (with the sand bell), sand bell swings, and horizontal pulls on the railing of the bunker. After completing those, we had to run down 80 stairs and back up, then rinse and repeat. We had to do three sets in total – 20 repetitions of each in the first set, then 15 in the second, and 9 in the final set.

I was sucking wind for most of the workout, but I was motivated by the group, especially the guy next to me who made it all look pretty easy. And even though it was a tough workout, everyone completed it because they could go at their own pace.

“My classes welcome people with various fitness levels, so the workouts are designed to be challenging for everyone – but not impossible,” Miller says. “I want people to feel like they’ve accomplished something, and that they had a good time doing it.”

Miller says her coaching style was best described by one of her clients – “warm yet demanding”. She’s not a drill sergeant barking orders, but she’ll push you to work hard and encourages a supportive environment in class.

After the high intensity section, we did a few exercises to target our core (abdomen), including a distracting yet effective plank that had us moving the sand bell up and back a straight line while we were in the push-up position. After a couple of rounds of that, we walked/jogged back up from the bunker to Immigrant Point, where we cooled down and stretched.

Another benefit to group workouts seems obvious but it’s worth mentioning – meeting new people, many of them from my own neighborhood.

One woman lived close by in the Presidio and was there to get back into shape after taking time off from working out. Another was a personal training client of Miller’s who wanted to supplement her solo workouts with a group class. A married couple joined the class so they could workout together.

“I also like the group dynamic because I push myself so much harder than I do when I workout on my own,” the husband said.

Bright1Fitness’ outdoor group fitness classes are offered at a variety of locations and times, including morning classes in Mt. Lake Park (6am, 7am) and the Presidio (10:30am), evening classes in Golden Gate Park (6:30pm) and Saturday mornings in the Presidio (9am). Miller also offers personal training.

Bright1Fitness offers a range of price packages, depending on how often you want to come out. Rates start at $120 a month for 2 classes per week. You can take your classes in the same location, or split between one or more locations.

Plus, through March 15, Bright1Fitness is offering an additional 20% off the first month to readers of the Richmond District Blog. Just mention the blog when you’re signing up (new signups only; discount is limited to first month only).

So no excuses, readers! If you had a New Year’s resolution to get fit and it seems to be slipping away, here’s your chance. Your first class is free, so why not come out and give it a try. And if you do decide to sign up, you get 20% off.

Thanks to Bright1Fitness and my classmates from last Saturday for a great workout – I’m looking forward to more “push-ups with a view”!

Sarah B.

8:15 am | Posted under Classes, Golden Gate Park, Health, Parks | 3 comments

Video: ABC News checks in our new face-slapping massage parlor

In case you were wondering what actually goes on inside the new Tata Massage face-slapping salon on Geary at 14th Avenue, ABC News stopped by to see what all the slapping is about.

A face-slapping session will set you back $350 but is supposed to make you look younger, more vital and sexy (“So beautiful that your beauty will charm everyone”). The video is worth watching just for the decor alone.

Forget face-slapping, we’ve got some great swamp land in Florida we want to show you…

Thanks to reader Jean B. for the tip.

Sarah B.

12:43 pm | Posted under Business, Health, Video | 5 comments