Between the ages of 10 and 24, children pass through key developmental experiences and complex emotional and moral questioning on their path to adulthood. However, teens are the least likely of all age groups to receive or access traditional health services necessary to accompany them through this developmental process. Without adequate support, teens often turn to common risky behaviors including violence, tobacco, alcohol and drugs, risky sexual behaviors, sedentarism, and poor nutrition. In fact, these behaviors contribute to 75 percent of healthcare costs of illness and death in Latin America and the United States. The financial and social costs associated with these behaviors during adolescence and later in life are staggering for governments and society. According to the US Customs and Border Protections, 50,000 unaccompanied Central American minors migrate to the US border each year and have little access to formal counseling or guidance. Additionally, one out of every four Nicaraguan girls become mothers by age 18, and increasing rates of suicide and suicidal ideation continue to devastate Latin American communities.
JovenSalud.net by TeenSmart International is an interactive online platform where youth guide their own process of reflection through the different services, such as personal health quizzes, confidential coaching, a virtual health library, confidential online coaching, and a community health resource directory. JovenSalud.net ensures access to essential health information and personalized counseling for vulnerable youth. To date, more than 89,000 Latin American teens who otherwise would not have had such support, have accessed the platform. By engaging teens to prevent and reduce risky behaviors, JovenSalud.net also encourages them to create a life project, continue studying, and seek new job opportunities. By leveraging the power and flexibility of JovenSalud.net, TeenSmart has provided an essential, sustainable, and impact-driven service for teens living in vulnerability.
Currently, TeenSmart is used in 20 countries across Latin America, the United States, and Spain, reaching about 89,000 teens.
Violence, tobacco, alcohol consumption, drug use, risky sexual behaviors, poor nutrition and lack of exercise are the six risk behaviors that represent 75 percent of costs in illness and death among adolescents. In Costa Rica alone, this is an estimated $5 billion. JovenSalud.net is free for Latin American youth and would alleviate some of these costs.
Received grants from Interamerican Development Bank, Global Stars from Grand Challenges Canada, and the Canadian Embassy.
Connections to experts who can help support the advancement of JovenSalud’s technical development, including the redesign of the platform for a more user-centered interface and the expansion of the Spanish-language chatbot for teens.
Strategic marketing and publicity support to help reach millions of teens in the next five years with a particular focus on Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
Strategic business model advice to support a shift in business strategies to reach profitability.
Connections to cross-sector leaders with experience in technology, business development, and business models to serve on its board and promote its mission.
San Jose, Costa Rica
Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, Perú, United States, Paraguay, Chile, Panamá, España, Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Puerto Rico
Mary Coffman TeenSmart International