Friday, August 20, 2010

The Ugly Duckling, the Tortoise, and the Early Bird, Part 2

The Ugly Duckling, the Tortoise, and the Early Bird, Part 2
Preventing HIV & Aids by Preparing & Investing in Your Future Early!

Young people have been trying to be grown as long as I can remember. I think what's so scary nowadays is that there's much excess here in America (as well as any urbanized or metropolitan area of the world's biggest cities). Today's generation and society is way more complicated- and will continue too. This is the fear and the reality that my generation realizes- and some of us fight hard to equip this generation and the next with the skills and abilities to compete and get their equal share of life.

Being sexy for image or popularity sake, sex, love, diseases, and getting pregnant are all adult activities and concerns – or should be. If someone of a youthful age is practicing in those things, usually means they’ve to moved too quickly into something they are not prepared for. Sometimes it can also mean they’ve not figured out who they are yet and what their life’s goals are. Sometimes just being unsure, can open the door to being lead in wrong direction.

Peer groups often socially pressure individuals to conform or adapt to group think. I currently work at a middle school (and have worked with youth for years). At my school I have observed what makes certain students do well and not do well. I came up with four archetypes based on my observations of youth social cliques who are successful in life or in school settings. Basically, my approach is looking at five types of cliques that have healthy self-esteem and goals to succeed and compete through life. Thus being busy and having found purpose they have less time to be sexually active early. All of them require strong self-discipline and focus. The fifth type is a combination of 1-4.

1. the Talented - These kids have been told (by loved ones or themselves that they are good at- ) and or they find their niche, the passion, their talent (what they are good at) early (in life) and stick to it like glue- not allowing anything to distract them or get in their way. They often socialize with like-minded people. Can be sometimes labeled as the 'it' crowd or the 'cool crowd. Everybody wants to be like them; however this group really does work hard at what they do. Academics, sports, hobbies, social groups, etc.

2. the Independent, the Non-Conformist – Although they may be “labeled” as other, an 'outcast', a the rebel, or social misfit; they are just fine in their own skin and aren't in a rush to be 'cool'. As such, they are not pressured to perform or live up to an ideal (beauty, popular, dating expectations, etc.) The key to this individual being positive and or productive is that they may require more self-control and or self-esteem to be able to maintain their inner strength to not be 'normal' or fall in to the 'it' crowd. Underground or alternative cultures are their activity usually.

3. the Traditionalists - He or she waits for the person who is suitable or worthy of him or her and takes their time to explore their sexuality. Unlike the other three types- this person or people have made a inner or personal choice to wait to explore their sexuality. The other three use their activities or outer expression to focus their life. This one has taken a moral obligation to wait.

4. the Loyalist, the Tribe, the clan member - they have strong parents or and or a big family. The family does everything together. Most social activities are family centered. A strong sense of sticking together is valued here. Family business, family goals are clear, etc. Often these are newly immigrated people. The family protects them from negative and or unfamiliar people and influences so that if and when he/she makes a mistake parent or family helps rescue or protect them from further harm or mistake.

5. the Hybrid- this individual or group is a combination of one or more of these choices and personality types. They have qualities of one or more of the above. I would say depending on the age and or maturity that a lot of young people fall in and out of this group all the way into adult life. Because the above four take a lot of will-power and inner-strength; many of us might not have been born talented but have the interest or the passion. . Let's face young people and humans in general are constantly growing and changing.

These are simplified categories or groups, I know, but where I work I see these groups everyday. When you go to a job, there are similar behaviors and types of people there too! Especially when the numbers grow. The bigger the population the more fragmented or cliquish humans can become. And the more you can get lost and want to identify yourself more.

Yes, sex and violence is power and pays. However the younger you get sexually involved and or over emphasis your physical appearance, the easier you can get exploited by someone older, smarter, and wiser. You may get paid and famous; you might stand out- but beauty is not long term. Over emphasis on outward beauty can be expensive and detrimental to your inner beauty. The above four success groups focus on their inner selves first and their outer selves second.

Take care of your body and be careful with whom you share your body. Sharing your body is like sharing your personal information - the more your name, phone number, address, is out there more you are vulnerable to misuse. Same with your mind and spirit.…If you give those away and or share it freely too soon then it says something about your self-identity and your possible lack of future planning.This is why the above four types do so well. Because they seldom have time to worry about that and they are personally invested in what's inside them that makes them special.

The world you have yet to encounter is vast and glorious, yes, and the entertainment industry is there to magnify the sexiest parts of it for profit. It is often the way society glorifies success to young people- this is the illusion. However, having a life plan, you can take in all the world has to offer – protecting yourself along the way!

Hey, protect your mind, body, and spirit, here's some parting tips-

1. Realize your health and inner beauty, your inner well being is not an illusion…and neither is HIV & AIDS!

2. Think about what category you are in, and if none of the above, where you may need additional support in your life..then seek it out!

3. Learn the difference between perception and reality and never compromise your body for the sake of fitting in or being successful.

4. Ask yourself this: If you would not give that “special person” all of your personal banking information, then ask yourself are they “special” enough to give your body to before you have sex?

5. Tap into your inner strength- Know you are stronger than you think!

Love, Luck and Life!

The Life Student

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Friday, August 13, 2010



Launches Online Fall 2010

Introducing the GET DOWN PSA project and our RADIO PROGRAM. Inspired by the writing of a 16-year-old girl, this project was conceived in 2008 after the Executive Producer walked away from 16 years in the corporate world. No longer content with just sitting on the sidelines, she decided to give back to the community by creating a PSA that will launch a movement. Like all grassroots endeavors, this movement starts from the bottom up. It’s independently produced, and the best part about it is that teens/young adults were involved in the production – both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. Each PSA features a “where to get help” at the end, which drives to the online site for FACES NY. If viewers of the PSA are outside the NYC area and want help, they can check the project’s MySpace page ( For ongoing updates, friend us on Facebook ( and follow us on Twitter. We partnered with a great charity, FACES NY (, for the launch. Check them out.

We have a blog, facebook, twitter…and now GET DOWN PSA RADIO! GET DOWN RADIO is about OUR VOICES, OUR HEALTH from an “edutaining” and inclusive point of view. Hosted by Anita B. a renown youth activist, mentor and entertainment industry marketing diva, GET DOWN RADIO is not just about HIV/AIDS, but also about sex, sexuality, and gender identity. We also like to show our love for people, places and things that are relevant to you, our listeners, and shed light on organizations and events that are supporting the cause of raising awareness, and promoting testing and safe sex. It’s by and about people like you, people who care about what’s going on in the community and understand how HIV/AIDS affects everyone. It’s a global pandemic.

Launching in Fall 2010 as monthly online “blog” radio show, GET DOWN will grow to full internet radio in 2011. Cycle is from Fall 2010 to Spring 2011.

We Are Looking For Two Co-Hosts!! Are you energetic, opinionated, like to keep up with latest topics and care about your peers and community specifically in the areas of sex, sexuality, gender identity, and self-esteem? Do you keep up with latest news, trends and images in media and pop culture? Do you desire a career in radio or as a media host and want something great for your reel? Do you want to network with executives and personalities in media and entertainment? If this is you, and you are at least 18 years of age, take a look:

Co-Host should:
  • Be at least 16+ years old (High School Junior/Senior or higher). Anyone can apply but under 18, will be required to have Parent’s Permission at time of acceptance.
  • Have a desire to participate in the movement to spread awareness of HIV/AIDS and related topics of sex, sexuality, and gender identity.
  • Stay current on the politics, policies and “newsy” hot topics around HIV/AIDS both domestic and internationally.
  • Stay abreast of newsworthy events and happenings going on and people, place and organizations that are doing things in the area of HIV/AIDS.
  • Have a unique POV and be unafraid to express it.
  • Have a love of media and be Internet savvy.
  • Have the ability to research the topics being discussed, fact-check and cite your sources independently.
  • Be detailed and deadline oriented.
  • Be able to contribute at least two (2) 250-400 word blog entries to GET DOWN PSA BLOGSPOT and turn them in on time. Must occur within the Cycle period (Fall 2010 to Spring 2011).
How to GET DOWN with the RADIO SHOW? Just do this:
Tell us about yourself. Send a brief :60 sec video clip of yourself — your “audition” — and resume (or attach or send link) to us:

When? Now! Submit from August 13 – September 24, 2010

How Do We Choose? We will post the best candidates’ submissions on our Facebook ( where you have your friends vote for you by clicking “LIKE”. The top “LIKE”-getters will be the finalists from whom GET DOWN will choose.

We will get back you with more details and next steps. That’s it! We are so looking forward to hearing from you! And remember, NO MATTER HOW YOU GET DOWN, PROTECT YOURSELF AND GET TESTED.

About Anita B:

Anita B. is an entertainment marketing guru, community activist and emerging media personality. She began her rise at Atlantic Records working projects for Lil Cease, Trina, Trick Daddy, Lil Kim, and Terror Squad and then Sony Music before transitioning to corporate America as New York Marketing head for Remy Amerique, Inc. (Remy Martin) and then Kobrand Corporation (Alize). After partnering her brands with renown female centric music showcase “Sista Factory”, she was tapped to consult “Sista Factory” and in 2001 launched her own her own Marketing/Special Events company called A-Marketing. Always community minded, Anita B. has a long list of civic activity to her credit including the 2004 MOVE Against AIDS Fall Dance-a-thon, 2005-06 Youth PrideFest, 2005-05 NYC Mission Society Girls Project –“It’s All About Me” and the 2003 Artists for Life’s Sake AIDS Benefit Fashion Show for NYC Fashion Week. In 2010, Anita B. is going to the next level, combining both her entertainment background and passion for cause marketing, as the inaugural host of GET DOWN Radio, a monthly online radiocast which is about OUR VOICES, OUR HEALTH from an “edutaining” and inclusive point of view.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Ugly Duckling, the Tortoise, and the Early Bird, Part 1

The Ugly Duckling, the Tortoise, and the Early Bird, Part 1
Preventing HIV & Aids by Preparing & Investing in Your Future Early!

My wife has a big family. I don't. We are close to her sister's children and we recently had them stay with us and our kids. It’s always interesting seeing the changes kids go through. I often find kids lives way more interesting than adults. Recently I was talking with my nieces, ages 11 and 13, about their school and their hobbies, interests, etc. They said that their school didn't have a lot or resources i.e. basically no team sports sponsored by the school. I was amazed. These are two great girls - both smart and have a loving, big, family; and are tall. They like to be active. Their physical energy is not being utilized. Athletics in the school is very important. Keeping busy could keep them out of trouble and or proactive. I also realized that they are growing up and maybe will start to think about boys - God forbid. Bored and curious could move them into a negative direction - like engaging in sex too early.

A little later, my oldest niece told me she liked rap artist Nikki Minaj (like a lot of youth nowadays). Oh no, I think! Nikki Minaj's style is overly sexy and her image is provocative (just like Beyonce, Britney Spears, Pink, Rihanna, Lady Ga Ga to name a few). Her fashion sense is over the top and accentuates her womanly assets (My niece also informed me that Nikki is heavily influenced by Japanese 'baby doll' fashion/culture….).

Am I concerned for my nieces? Yes! Why? Why wouldn't I be? Is this entertainer influencing my niece? Maybe. Is there anything else going on I don't know? Possibly. Will they tell me? Not sure? Mind you I don't see her a lot; which also is why I wanna know. But we have a good, usually open and honest relationship. Both girls are honest and friendly and we have many good conversations. This is good. Does this mean my niece or any other young person will be just like Nikki if they listen to her? No! However, as some of us know, if someone is bored with life or don't know what they are good at, then provocative entertainers/entertainment could influence the individual (and parts of communities) too behave and or think in unhealthy ways.

I think my nieces are “Neutral”. I define “Neutral” as being undecided for a period of time or until persuaded otherwise. “Neutral” kids have a sense of self but aren't necessarily driven by or have invested purpose or activity. They are also not necessarily “bad” or “problematic” kids (nihilistic, lost souls who have no empathy or care for life), however the danger in being too neutral is that peer pressure or outside sources (media, etc.) may influence them and they don't even know it, or these “forces that be” may move them into a negative direction. Now being confused, “Neutral” , or undecisive is characteristic of pre-teen behavior and that's normal.

How do I know this? I was once a kid, a teenager. I was rebellious but also an independent thinker but sometimes I fell into peer pressure. Coffee! At first taste it is nasty. Caffeine is a legal drug. It gives you energy. Starbucks are everywhere. You see everyone with a cup of joe in their hand walking down the street. Even teenagers. You say to yourself they look happy. At some point you might go in and try it. Eight years later, trying to keep up with young people, I am a habitual coffee drinker. See where I'm getting at? Cursing or curse words are provocative. It has somehow broken society down and made it’s way into popular culture and TV.

Books and moral messages have to compete with music videos, cartoons, commercials, movies, marketing everywhere. In my title I pull from various classic children's stories. The animals (in the stories) learn something as they grow. The animals or the stories symbolize innocence and a simpler life. All of the animals face a personal challenge. In the process, each animal determined, focused, and patient in the end get to their destination/goals! Or in the case of the early bird, pre-planning gets the bird ahead of the crowd. So each animal (in it’s story) knows it’s goals and purpose to achieve what they have to. The animal might not be popular or cool but in the long term they get to where they gotta go in life. Along the way, the tortoise doesn't get distracted or side-tracked by his ego or vanity or the fame of being “fast” like the rabbit does.

Often in our current society, innocence is lost and messages are blurred or confused because there's so much access. Access via the internet or TV or cable. It is hard for family; for a parent; for an uncle/dad like me to insulate and protect family; protect and empower our children. Fortunately my nieces are part of a tight, big family that can be protective and insulating (a lot of family activities and a lot of family near by). Family can help protect innocence and share empowering messages to our children.

Here's some good news and possible hope - Kaiser Family Foundation found in their 2003 study that:

Among teens aged 15-17 who have never had sexual intercourse, 94 percent said that concern about pregnancy influenced their decision to wait. Similar numbers said that concern about HIV/AIDS (92%), other STDs (92%) and feeling ‘too young’ (91%) contributed to their choice.

We want our children and our family to grow and become less “Neutral” - minded and become independent thinkers with a stronger sense of self-purpose and future-oriented thinking. I learned from my nieces that day, that I have to take the time to listen to them, hear what they are saying. I have to support their interests. Ask questions after I have heard what they have said. Be less critical and or look for the positive within but also be aware of the negatives. Be open to discuss or hear the provocative.

I want share with the children I know the skills needed to lead themselves into the right direction and ways they can protect themselves from being led into the wrong direction! Are you?

Lots of Love and Respect!
Amir Thornell
The Life Student

To Be Continued Friday, August 20th...

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Suleyka Brito ("Lauren") on her role in the GET DOWN PSA

On the set with Suleyka Brito ("Lauren") on her role in the GET DOWN PSA and what motivated her to get involved in spreading the awareness about HIV/AIDS and getting tested.