AFH Photo // Wilson Fortes
The Fourth of July is an awesome holiday, with food, bright firecrackers lighting up the night sky, and nice hot daysbut are all the popping sounds really from firecrackers? Around this time of year, the death rate goes up because the sounds of guns are masked by the sounds of the wonderful fireworks. 
According to Boston police statistics cited in the Boston Herald, 123 people were injured by gunshots as of the Fourth of July in 2017. During that same period last year, 95 people were shot, a 29.5 percent surge. 
The rise in violence from last year to this year is startling for teens. “As a fellow teen who lives in one of those neighborhoods, it makes me feel on edge for myself and for my peers,” said Kelis Greenidge, 15, a student at Cristo Rey Boston. “I always have to be alert and cautious no matter what I am doing, because nowadays, something so little can be made big and create problems that can harm me and the ones I love.” Ariana Haywood, 15, attending Community Charter School in Cambridge, said both her cousin and aunt were killed while in a corner store.“I should feel safe to go to the store,” she said.
Teens have been asked what should be done to keep the communities safe. Greenidge suggested that we as teens should take action. “I feel the city of Boston is trying do as much as they can to protect the youth and the elders living here,” she said. “Now, I just feel like it’s up to us, the upcoming youth, to stick together and take a stand against violence and put our foot down and say that we don’t want this anymore. We don’t want calls at 3 in the morning saying one of out relatives have been murdered or shot.” 
Teens are also unsure if the police can help lower the crime rate at all. “I feel as though that would be good if they did,” Greenidge said. “But it’s also an iffy type of situation because of the killings of unarmed black teens by cops that we’ve seen in the past and in the present. It could be a good idea, but it also may just make people feel a lot more nervous in their own neighborhoods.”
Zoe Grover, executive director of Newton’s Stop Handgun Violence, thinks we need to take action to reduce gun violence for the sake of everyone in Boston. “There is just too much shooting going on and I want to do something about it rather than just sitting around sad, waiting for the next funeral,” she said. According to Grover, education is key. “We try to engage with young people and gun owners on social media, spreading our message of how to stay safe when there are guns around,” she said. “We pass out trigger locks and encourage gun owners to lock their guns.” 
Through these steps, maybe by the next Fourth of July we can take strides to reduce gun violence in our city. 
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AFH Photo // Aijanah Sanford
Americans who encounter the enduring realities of a Trump presidency may experience symptoms of Trump-trauma. According to Peter Ward, a paleontologist and professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, “the average level of stress in America is rapidly increasing.”
Michelle Lee, a medical student studying at Harvard Medical School, said that “national policies can absolutely have ramifications that could potentially cause trauma.” She added, “The more traumatic events you have, the more deleterious the effects may be.” 
Lee feels the wrath of Trump “as a woman, as a daughter of immigrants, and as a future healthcare provider.” 
Ironically, at a time when the state of our mental health is threatened, the current administration is severing our public health resources. 
Trump has proposed slashing the National Institute of Health (NIH)’s budget by $6 billion. As an organization that works to develop new treatments that will be used to prevent disease, “it would be devastating,” Lee said. 
As of today, Trump’s budget has not yet been approved by Congress. However, his presidency is already having a distinct impact on the public’s psyche. 
Fatima Eddahbi, 15, a Moroccan-born Muslimah, feels the trauma-like effects of Trump. “Considering I’m a Muslim women of color, it’s really hard to feel accepted in a country that seems so against you,” she said. “It makes me feel that I’m not a part of a community that I once was a part of.” 
In Eddahbi’s view, Trump-trauma could certainly be a real phenomenon. “In the families that he’s really affecting and really hurting, I feel like someone could experience PTSD, especially those who have gone through deportation in their families,”  she said.
Aviana Sullivan, a 15-year-old from East Boston, affirms that stress levels have risen during this administration. With grandparents that were born in Brazil, she fears they will lose their citizenship. Sullivan claims Trump, “stresses everyone out” and that she “empathizes” with the minorities targeted by Trump. “We’re screwed,” Sullivan said. 
Unfortunately, Trump-trauma is only just getting started, as the President has yet to complete his first year in office.
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AFH Photo // Delia Fleming
He’s prescribed a pill a day for his knee pain. He sneaks a second one after dinner, because he sleeps more easily after taking the prescribed muscle relaxer. He takes one in the morning, one before his train ride home because sitting aches, and one before bed. Every day. Although his doctor prescribed only one pill with breakfast, it relieves his pain to take more, so he assumes his doctor won’t mind.
Roughly 21 to 29 percent of people prescribed chronic pain relievers abuse them, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Sadly, the hypothetical scenario above is very much a reality today. You may have heard of it: the opioid epidemic. NIDA defines the opioid epidemic as the “misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.” 
In 2016, this epidemic was responsible for nearly 2,000 deaths in Massachusetts alone—over five times as deadly as it was in 2000, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Of these 2,000 victims, over 150 were younger than 25 years old.
Dr. Nicholas Chadi, Pediatric Addictions Fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital, works with adolescents who struggle with substance abuse, and agrees that the opioid epidemic is a rising issue among our youth. “We’re seeing these opioids become a lot more available on the streets,” he said.“We’re seeing severe cases and overdoses a lot more than we used to.” 
Teenagers access opioids in a multitude of ways, from their own prescribed medications to stealing family member’s pills to buying off the streets. The recreational use of opioids such as fentanyl and morphine is becoming common among teenagers because of the feelings and side effects they produce. Seventeen-year-old Josie D. from Dallas, Texas, has been prescribed many heavy opioids for chronic pain. While she did not become addicted, she realizes how dangerous they are. Josie compares the experience of taking biweekly morphine treatments to being high.“I didn’t like the feeling,” she said. “But I can understand why someone would like it because you’re not thinking about your life or your problems.”
For teenagers, that in itself is plenty reason to try opioids. They are easier to use than other drugs in terms of convenience and secrecy, and don’t leave behind any smell or mess. It’s much easier to slip a pill than it is to go out and obtain other drugs. 
“I’ve had situations where people have approached me at school, knowing my pain condition and assuming that I am on painkillers, and they’ll ask me if they can have some,” Josie said. “The opioid epidemic is definitely a pressing issue among our youth today. When something has reached such a level that you can’t walk down your school hallways without other kids mentioning it, you know it’s important to teenagers.”
Dr. Sarah Bagley, Medical Director of Boston Medical Center’s Catalyst Program, also agrees this pressing issue requires more attention from youth. She spends her days seeing patients and helping them with their addictions as well as researching ways to engage young adults after non-fatal overdoses. She has worked with patients as young as nine years old and believes that opioids are not only dangerous, but a gateway to other drugs. 
“Teenagers who are exposed to opioids and start using them regularly are really at more serious risk for developing addiction,” Dr. Bagley said. “Addiction is loss of control; it’s compulsion.” She works to prevent this by diagnosing patients with a moderate, mild, or severe opioid use disorder. To treat this, she and her team use alternative therapy approaches and even switch patients from opioids to other medications such as buprenorphine or methadone. “We are using medications to treat a disease instead of to get high,” she said. “These medications allow you to stay in school, get a job, and reduce the chance that you’ll get HIV.”
Dr. Navil Sethna, Medical Director of Boston Children’s Pediatric Pain Rehabilitation Center, also works to wean his chronic pain patients off of opioids. His approach involves a slow wean off the opioids to allow the patient’s body to adjust and help with withdrawals. He prefers to try to prevent the problem before it occurs rather than fix it afterwards. To do this, he believes our society must focus on education. 
“We can educate the health care prescribers and providers in terms of dosing and appropriate prescription.” he said. “We need to inform parents and patients on the pill’s purpose, duration and side effects.”
Dr. Chadi agrees. “Education is the first step,” he said. “It starts with educating the prescribers, and then it has to go into the schools. Schools need to know when students start using; students need to know the risks of using.”
Josie also feels that society as a whole should combat the opioid epidemic. “As a society, we should work on denormalizing trends that are addictive,” she said. “We need to start shutting down the gateways.”
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AFH Photo // Esther Bobo
For decades, many black people have tried to make society embrace their natural hair. Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, black activists including the Black Panthers used their natural hair as a symbol of being politically aware, or “being woke.”
When I decided to go natural, I found out that the discrimination of kinky hair came from slave culture. Slave owners were seen as superior. Their skin color was the right skin color. Their hair was the right hair. Color has always been what divided African-Americans. Light skinned black people with “good” hair were in the house, while dark skin black people with “nappy” hair were outside. The term nappy was a derogatory term which separated our kinky hair from their straight hair. African-Americans were taught since the beginning of time that their hair was not good hair. 
Now, natural hair is making a comeback. Jessie Hutley, a Roxbury resident, says, “Natural hair is making a comeback, so I had to go back to my roots.” Black women are wearing their natural hair more than ever. Singer Solange Knowles cut her hair and went natural in 2009, making her one of the first prominent figures in the natural hair movement. Viola Davis, the only black woman to be nominated for three Academy Awards, wore her natural hair to the 2012 Academy Awards rather than a wig, which is usually the norm for any red carpet event.
According to the global market research firm Mintel, hair relaxer sales have decreased $206 million, or 26 percent in the past five years, and they are still decreasing. Even with fewer hair relaxers being bought, there are still people in the black community who use hot combs and other straightening products. 
With more people wearing their natural hair, there are more salons and events that specialize in natural hair. “Return to your Roots” is an annual event that advertises and admires natural hair, and in 2012, Boston hosted “Curls Gone Wild: Natural Hair and Health Expo” to feature natural hair care services and products. These events teach you how to maintain and love your natural hair. 
There are also lot of YouTubers who post videos on maintaining natural hair. There are videos from daily routines to wash-and-gos to haircutting and hair styling. There are also Facebook pages that promote natural hair products and include tutorials on daily moisturizing routines.
Yvonne Dunkley, a 17-year-old senior at John D. O’Bryant High School, says, “Even though going natural is a whole process, you have to do a lot of moisturizing and protein treatments. It's really a lot, but at the end of the day my natural hair is bomb, and as a black female I need to embrace my hair in its natural state.”
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One Year Later, Franklin Park Zoo’s “Nature’s Neighborhoods” Prove Their Value
AFH Photo // Gilford Murphy
In September 2016, the Franklin Park Zoo opened its renovated children’s zoo titled “Nature’s Neighborhoods.” A year later, the exhibit is still widely advertised and flooded with visitors. And it is easy to see why. 
As a modern exhibit, the enclosures appear more natural than other parts of the zoo, which feature unnatural chain link fences and a somewhat mundane appearance. In the new exhibit, enclosures are built to fit the needs of the animals in terms of space and surroundings. The animals are simulated to believe that they are in the wild because of how their enclosures are constructed. This is an observation made by casual zoogoer Alison Hackett, who thinks the zoo’s other exhibits could be better designed for both the animals and the visitors
Those who look down on zoos and see them as prisons may be surprised to see the improvement in the exhibit design. The animals, which include red pandas, prairie dogs, muntjacs, and a variety of birds, seem more at home here. This is due to the more natural-looking environments that allow the animals to be more active.
There are also some activities for young children, such as a miniature playground and a maze. Kids can also learn about conservation of animals in terms they can understand. 
Visitor Corey Bushong thinks encouraging kids to take better care of the world is a great idea, and that the children’s zoo puts more effort in explaining it than other exhibits. There is no small part in conservation, and it starts here.
Brooke Wardrop, Director of Marketing and Communications at Zoo New England, stated that “the children's zoo was designed specifically for all of the species that reside in this place.” The designers took great pains to make sure every animal would be comfortable. Wardrop is satisfied with how the exhibit turned out, showing the employee’s true passion for what they do.
On the whole, you will not want to miss “Nature’s Neighborhoods.” It has natural-looking and inventive enclosures and great activities for kids. It is certainly a welcome addition to the zoo’s collection.
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