MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Who understands the concerns of a teenager better than another teenager? That’s why Volunteer State Health Plan (VSHP) solicited the assistance of 25 Memphis teens to help plan, promote and host a free youth conference scheduled for Nov. 17 at East High School.

Designed by teens for teens, the conference seeks to engage youth in meaningful dialogue with their peers on health and quality of life issues. Conference topics picked by the youth organizers include obesity, healthy relationships, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, suicide, media influences, peer pressure, stress/depression and gang violence.

“The teens themselves told us their concerns and what they wanted to learn more about,” said Shelia Keith, manager for medical information management at VSHP. “Because this population is traditionally hard to reach, it’s important to involve them in the process and provide them an opportunity to voice their concerns and opinions. By doing so, we can help to affect healthy lifestyles and choices amongst teens.”

The conference includes a general session, followed by a choice of 10 breakout sessions. Parents, too, can benefit from special adult sessions covering exercise and nutrition, gang violence, and alcohol and drugs. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. the Health Occupations Students of America will conduct a free health screening, consisting of cholesterol levels, blood pressure and diabetes. And finally, students can visit an educational display area where they can pick up health information from various organizations.

Groups and individuals participating in the conference include Michael Adrian Davis, morning host on WHAL-FM; Reggie Williams, Memphis Red Birds; and T. J. Johnson, Wake Up Youth Foundation.

Up to 600 youth are expected to attend the conference, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 17 from 12 to 5 p.m. at East High School, located at 3206 Poplar Avenue. The event is free and open to youth ages 13 to 20.

For more information on the Youth Conference, visit www.teenhealthexplosion.com or contact Sheila Keith with BlueCross at (423) 535-7603.

About Volunteer State Health Plan (VSHP)

Volunteer State Health Plan is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. Founded in 1993, the Chattanooga-based company focuses on managing care and providing quality health care products, services, and information for government programs. VSHP currently serves more than 300,000 members.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.