Author: Willie Pena

From Mandy Harvey:  5 most important tips for auditioning on AGT (America’s Got Talent)

You might remember Mandy Harvey, America’s Got Talent season 12 contestant who finished in fourth place despite being deaf. She made such an impression with her voice, story and her ukelele that the normally unfazeable Simon Cowell sent her to the live rounds fast track by pressing the Golden Buzzer.

With the final season 13 auditions coming up in Los Angeles, CA at the Pasadena Convention Center on Feb. 3 and Phoenix, AZ at the Phoenix Convention Center on Feb. 24, we asked Mandy to provide some quick tips for those about to audition. 

Here’s Mandy’s tips!:

  1. “Stay true to yourself!”
  2. “Put your heart into your performance.”
  3. “Let Go! Don’t worry about the audience/judges/competition… just focus on what you have control over which is you doing your best!”
  4. “Remember that showing up is the hardest part and you are already pushing past that barrier! That’s something to be proud of no matter what happens!”
  5. “You are not doing this alone! We are cheering for you! You got this!!!”

If you are auditioning for season 13: GOOD LUCK! And if you want to be featured on Teens Wanna Know, shoot us an email to info@teenswannaknow.com

Mandy’s Social Media Links:

Facebook: @mandyharveymusic

Instagram: @mandyharvey

Twitter: @mandyharvey

Watch Mandy’s Golden Buzzer moment here (full segment):

Q & A with The Detour’s Ashley Gerasimovich (Season 3 Coming Up!)

Comedic actress Ashley Gerasimovich stars as Delilah Parker, the sassy and sarcastic young teenage daughter to Nate and Robin Parker (Jason Jones & Natalie Zea) on TBS’ The Detour. The show, which just launched its third season, is about a family who’s road trip vacation takes some crazy turns.

At only 13 years of age, Ashley has already worked with a number of the big names in diverse roles. At the age of five, she co-starred with Naomi Watts and Sean Penn in Summit Entertainment’s drama, Fair Game.  Soon after wrapping that, she went on to play Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly’s daughter, Celia in the thriller We Need to Talk About Kevin with Ezra Miller. Louie fans may recognize Ashley as Louis C.K.’s youngest daughter Jane, and she has also appeared on NBC’s 30 Rock, CBS’ Blue Bloods and Deadbeat for Hulu. She was last seen in the independent film A Different Sun, which tells the story of a young couple that emigrates from China to Germany with their young daughter.

Let’s find out more about Ashley in her interview with Teens Wanna Know!


photo credit:  Michael Creagh

Hi Ashley, nice to e-meet you! Before we jump into talking about your show, The Detour, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Nice to e-meet you too! Well, to start with, I really like drawing, writing stories, and playing guitar! I’m also a brown belt in Taekwondo. One day I really want to learn how to animate, as well.

You play ‘Delilah” on TBS’s The Detour, which is about a family vacation gone wrong. What can you reveal about Season 3?

Well, the Parkers are in Alaska this season, and there’s going to be a lot of zany adventures that come along with this new location! Also, there’s going to be a couple of big plot twists coming up, one of them involving Delilah, so stay tuned!

What’s been the craziest/strangest thing to ever happen to you on vacation in real life?

My dad, older sister and I all went on a road trip, and we listened to the soundtrack of “Cats” over and over nonstop! We were obsessed with the play for several months afterward, and even got the poem book that the play was based off of!

If you could go on a dream vacation, what would it be?

I would love to explore somewhere historical, like Rome! There’s so much to learn there.

Funniest moment behind-the-scenes?

The funniest behind-the-scenes moment was when I first met the Alpacas!! They were SO CUTE, and I gave them several hugs. They were my favorites!

You have had credits with some pretty notable actors, such as Naomi Watts and Tilda Swinton. What’s been your most memorable showbiz moment to date?

The most memorable moment was when I worked with Tilda Swinton. We talked about what my favorite dog was, which was a poodle, and on the last day of filming, she gave me a life sized poodle stuffed animal! That was really nice of her, and I still have it with me today!

If there is one thing you could change about show business, what would it be?

My experiences have all been amazing, but if there’s one thing I could change, it would be to encourage everyone to support each other’s successes. I believe it’s so important to be the best person you can be. Showbiz is hard and we need to have each other’s backs!

Pet peeve?

When I’m in school, sometimes the person sitting next to me will tap their pencil on the desk, and it drives me crazy!

Most attractive quality in another person?

I like it when someone doesn’t put on a show to try to get me to like them. Just be yourself, and I’ll definitely respect you a lot more right off the bat!

Tell me something people would be surprised to know about you?

I think people will be surprised that I have three random fact books in my room that I read when I’m bored.

What do you have coming up next?

I’m auditioning and waiting to see what my next project will be. For now, stay tuned for new episodes of The Detour to see what wild adventures the Parker’s manage to get into!

Twitter: @AshGerasimovich
Instagram: @AshleyGerasimovich

You can watch the PG-13 trailer for Season 3 of The Detour here:

Asher Monroe Reveals His Inner Warrior with First Solo Project & Video – Interview

Those of you who listened to Radio Disney in the late 2000s will no doubt remember 2009’s “Love Struck,” by R&B boy band V Factory. It was played on heavy rotation, and featured the vocals of lead singer Asher Monroe.

Well, its been a few years since Asher left the band (he departed in 2010), so what has he been up to since then? Well, he was named one of MTV’s Top Ten Artists, appeared on the cover of Billboard, worked with Chris Brown and Ryan Tedder, and has been on several TV shows and Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast and Sound of Music, among others. 

Recently, he released his first solo album, titled Inner Warrior, and recorded an emotional music video for the song “Sail On.” We got the chance to ask Asher a few questions, check out the interview below! (photos by Steven Gomillion, except selfie at end)

Hi Asher, nice to e-meet you! Let’s get right into your new release, a full length album called Inner Warrior. Who do you think this music is going to appeal to most?

I hope my music appeals to a wide range of listeners. I think all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds can and will enjoy my music. I’ve got a little something for everyone – up-tempo, funky, slow, ballads, happy, sad.

The title Inner Warrior brings to mind some kind of struggle. Are you referencing some personal hurdles you’ve had to overcome? If so, what?

Yes, you got it! I went through many stages, interests, and high and lows to get this album out. Nothing too serious, but I think most artists would agree with me before they put out their first album. In the beginning, I didn’t know exactly what to write about, or what style I wanted to categorize myself in, because I wanted to try anything and everything. I always felt like I brought a lot of value to the table, but eventually I had to pick a lane and go for it 100%. Also, getting the songs to sound like they do on the album wasn’t an overnight process. Every version started off with a simple melody, chord, basic track, or lyric. Then you start adding little by little. Eventually you just have to say it’s done and move on to the next. If I could go back, I would have finished more songs that I started. It’s hard to get in the emotional place of a song you need to finish that was written a few years ago. All in all, I don’t regret the process, but it’s a learning curve and all I’m doing is working on a better version of myself and being more open to share with the world.

Your single “Unpredictable” was debuted by Elton John on his Rocket Hour show, and it seems you guys go way back. How did you two meet, and how did he become a mentor for you?

I have known Elton and his husband David for about eight years. We first met in LA with a few mutual friends, and our friendship has stayed great throughout the years. I can remember all the way back to when i was five years old in the back of my friends car listening to Elton’s cd’s. His music has always done so much for me in terms of inspiration. Every time I’m at the piano I try to channel a little bit of Elton. I look up to him as a big brother and will always love and respect that man. He has done so many wonderful things and boy oh boy is he a workaholic. He has so much energy at his age. It’s his passion for music that keeps him doing it night after night.

Apart from Elton, who else do you consider a mentor?

I have a great team and people in my life that I feel look out for my best interest and always want the best for me. It hasn’t always been like that. There are some people, friends, and colleagues I still talk to and others have gone in different directions. My home life is very important to me and always staying grounded in this industry has helped keep me sane.

I know you have a love of classics like Otis Redding and Stevie Wonder, but what MODERN music artists are you feeling these days?

I like Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Twenty One Pilots, and Rihanna.

Do you still keep in touch with any of the guys from V Factory?

I’ll check in with Wes every once in a while. I know Nicky is still teaching dance. I run into Jared every blue moon usually at something really random. And I have not talked to Nathaniel in years. I love those guys and I always wish them well.

What’s the biggest lesson your learned from your boy-band days?

I learned a lot about the studio recording process. I remember one time blowing my voice when Warner Brothers sent me to Sweden to record. I had experience singing on Broadway and many different opportunities but I had never been tracked by a producer before. I would sing for hours, take after take, and never asked the producer for a five minute vocal break. I ended up losing my voice and had to be flown out again the second time. Ha! These are the things you learn along the way. And of course, never to go anywhere without my throat coat tea. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, its a little vocal coach trick. 🙂

Craziest fan experience you have ever had?

I’ve had fans who have tattooed my logo on their body! It’s pretty crazy but fans are fans for a reason. You gotta love ‘em!

Our audience is mostly teenagers. If you could travel back in time and give your teenage self ONE piece of advice, what would it be?

Don’t waste any good opportunities, and work your ass off! Whatever you do, stay positive through the whole experience. Enjoy the highs and lows. Trust me, they make you a better person in the end. You are exactly where you are supposed to be right now. God has big plans for all of us, but he won’t do all the heavy lifting. Get out there and pursue your dreams with all you have!

Tell me something people would be surprised to know about you?

I’m a big animal lover. I have eight dogs and two monkeys haha!

Favorite hobby unrelated to music/acting?

Working out, watching movies, traveling to new places, eating good food.

Pet peeve?

People doing things other than driving in the car like putting on makeup, or eating a giant Subway sandwich. The funny thing is we all do it, but when I see other people I just laugh and keep driving. I always wonder if other people witnessed it too.

What do you have coming up next?

I finished designing my new studio that I will start working in this year on a new album. I have a mini movie/music video that I’m very close to finishing. And hopefully some new tour dates will arise very soon.

Anything else we should know?

Follow me on instagram: @ashermonroe. I love talking to my fans and will always try to respond when I can.

Could you please send an unpublished selfie of whatever you are doing at the moment? We like to keep it real for the fans!

Ha ha, great shot! Watch Asher’s video below, and follow him on social media:

Twitter
Instagram
Facebook
Soundcloud

Gigi Cesare: Actress & Singer Poised to Conquer 2018 and Beyond

One of the characteristics of a successful artist is “hustle.” Although some actors and musicians seem to become hits overnight, in truth there is a lot of work behind building their careers. This means years of acting and voice lessons, paying one’s dues in small productions, and generally “working it” for the love of the craft until hopefully, one day, success arrives.

12-year-old Gigi Cesare represents that level of hustle. This Imagen Award-nominated beauty with Uruguayan roots works on her acting and singing chops constantly, and has just released a music video for her first single, called Valentine. She also has several film projects in the works. With this amount of dedication and hard work, great success will surely come knocking on Gigi’s door sooner rather than later.

Let’s find out more about her…keep scrolling for her interview with TWK!

Hello Gigi, nice to e-meet you! You’ve just released a music video for your new single “Valentine.” Tell us what the song and video are about!

Hi TWK! I am so excited to be here with you. Thanks for asking, I am so excited about “Valentine.” This song is about anyon’e love story, it can be applied to any teen, tween, person really who has love interest in someone and wants them to know. Its about it being ok to say “I like you” and taking a chance. Its about not being afraid of rejection or looking silly if those feelings aren’t returned. Let’s face it, we have all been there, right?

What was the best part about making it?

Wow, that’s a great question….there are so many firsts in this process it’s hard to choose just one. I would have to say that hearing my own voice on a studio recording of my very own song is totally epic and the ‘what will happen next’ part is super exciting. I will never forget making the video. There are just so many artistic, incredible moments this process is giving me. I’m really humbled and grateful.

Do you have more music coming out after that? If so, tell us about it!

Oh my gosh I am so excited you asked, I have written a song called “Don’t Cry” that is such a special song written from a really raw place of sadness about my own experiences being bullied. My lyrics are now in the hands of the composer, the same songwriter who composed “Valentine” and he will begin adding music to them.

I want to sing great songs of course, that people enjoy but I also want to say something in the process. I want other kids to know I have been there and you’re not alone and well, there is hope. If you can take your sadness, anger, frustrations and channel them into something positive like writing your own music or go belt out a song, write a poem, wonderful things can and will happen.

Who is your biggest musical inspiration?

I was raised on so many musical genres and decades, it’s hard to choose just one. In current day, I would choose Sia. She makes the kind of music I love and she actually sings her own songs which is very rare, most singers are talking through their songs, she doesn’t use autotune and she can slay the high notes. I aspire to have a similar musical career because she is reaching kids with her lyrics too, not just talking about getting a new “Rolex.” Not that there’s anything wrong with getting a new “Rolex!”

You were nominated for Best Actress at the 2017 Imagen Awards, along with huge names such as Salma Hayek, Eva Longoria, and Edy Ganem. Going back to the night of the awards
ceremony in August, which memories stand out the most for you?

Wow the Imagen Awards were literally a magical Cinderella evening. There were so many people in the room that I never thought I would meet, let alone be in their company as an artistic equal. Meeting Ricardo Hurtado from School of Rock was really cool. His parents were as cool as he is! Meeting Lin Manuel Miranda and Rita Moreno and Norman Lear, I mean these people are Hollywood and stage icons, it was just incredible.

I have seen a few clips of you working on your punching skills. Are you a martial artist, or is this preparation for a role? If prep, tell us about the movie!

Haha yes, that’s great you found those! I am taking boxing for my upcoming role in STREET II DEATH FIGHT. It is an MMA (mixed martial arts) film franchise I have been a part of since I played Jessy when I was age 8 in STREET I. I couldn’t love the producer, Lyle Howry, cast and crew more than I do. Long-time Hollywood Director Dwight H. Little has just signed on to direct, with the script being finished soon, this sequel is going to be an incredible, action-packed, adrenaline-pumping hour and a half of pure entertainment.

You’ve mentioned that Angelina Jolie is an inspiration because she uses her fame to promote important causes. If you were in her shoes which cause would YOU promote?

I think the work she does with clean water, building wells and attention to international human rights are all so important. I would definitely want to be part of those organizations and there’s one more cause I promote across social media platforms which is awareness on the fur trade.

Most people don’t realize how fur is farmed, how the animals suffer for long periods of time before a painful death. I just want to bring awareness to those who don’t know. Faux or fake fur is as genuine looking as the real thing nowadays, and when you think that an animal lost their life in a torturous way so you can have a pink fuzzy ball keychain or decorative fuzzy tassel hanging from your bag or boots, it could cause you to rethink those buying choices. If there’s no demand, those trades go out of business. Learn where your clothing is coming from, know your cosmetics – know if they are tested on animals and just share the word that cruelty is never ok.

I understand that your biological dad passed away when you were little. Can you tell us what happened and what your best memory of him is?

My biological dad, Fernando Marcelo Cesare de Matera (that’s a mouthful) was a professional soccer player from Uruguay South America, Canelones. He was a vibrant, funny, full of life person who was family oriented and I look just like him. When my mom was 7 months pregnant with me, he was taken to INS holding, held for several months then later deported. What we know is that he passed away around the USA border while working toward legal re-entry into the USA. We just don’t have many details. The whole thing is deeply tragic, he was so young.

He was from Uruguay – what part of the Uruguayan culture do you like or feel proud of most?

You know my dad spoke 5 languages and its not unusual for most people there to speak several languages. I love that aspect of South America. When you see how simply my family lives in Uruguay you can’t believe it. The focus there is not on material possessions, its on food, family, love and laughter. Its on building memories. They have these big open backyard outdoor pavilions with fireplaces bigger than you’ve ever seen. They are really into barbequing and roasting on open flames. It’s really incredible. And all the families live on connected plots of land where they can just walk next door and spend their days together. It’s incredible. The sense of family closeness is in all they do. I wouldn’t have minded some street lamps at night, but let me tell you with no streetlamps and lighting to interefere, the skies light up like diamonds at night.

If you could clear up just ONE misconception people have about young performers like yourself, what would it be?

Maybe a big misconception is that we are spoiled and live fabulously 24/7. The reality is it can be lonely, working as an actor, young performer or musician requires a tremendous amount of time dedication, preparation and perseverance and thick skin. If the audition or filming interferes with your plans – a dance, a prom, a party, the biz waits for no man. They will move on without you, so you must be present and available at all times. So sacrifices are big. Sure it looks like fun when you watch someone’s Instagram life, but that is not reality until you’re in it for years most of the time. They say “overnight success” but really there’s five or ten plus years what were part of that “overnight” no one talks about. And there’s bullying. I get it, I know it’s a gift that I get to do what I do. I think if the kids who want be an actor or performer were to ask me for help / guidance I would help in a nanosecond. I am always here to lend advice or guidance when someone wants to know how to enter the biz.


Photographer Natalie Warr @natwarr Photography. Styled by @howardveronika. HMUA by @coconicole.artistry

Biggest pet peeve?

Being mean to others. Mean people. Just be nice. And it always comes back to you. It always will come back to you.

Tell me something people would be surprised to know about you.

Hmmm, I write stories… I keep something with me at all times so I can write. I am always writing. Oh a fun fact that I have an Auntie in the biz, Brooke Hogan who isn’t just my aunt but a female power force and super positive role model.

Future goals?

To work on some amazing indie films, maybe something in Europe or an awesome NETFLIX series. I am hoping to carve out a career kinda like Hailee Steinfeld. She is multi-dimensional actress who can do drama and comedy and is on fire with her new music career. And of course once I have a platform, to shut down as many fur farms as I can get my hands on.

What other projects are you working on in the near future?

I am partnering with Spreading the Love 101, cause for Autism awareness, which is a cause close to my heart. I will be performing “Valentine” at their event on Sat., April 7th in Burbank with Party Bash for Kids and many other young performers organized by founder @madisynsblog Madisyn Alexis, a young celeb blogger with Asperger’s who is pioneering breaking the stigma on autism spectrum awareness. She’s incredible.

I just wrapped WITHIN AND WITHOUT playing Emily in an emotion-fueled drama piece about a family who loses their mom. The STREET franchise is going to keep me on my toes for years to come thankfully, and I am also cast in THE KING’S PROPHECY as Exandra, the lead in this awesome medieval fantasy tale of cousins, murder and survival. I understand that my film THE KIDS FROM 62-F (I play Nina with an ensemble cast of 4 youth actors) will debut on NETFLIX in early 2018 with a sequel in the works as well. And who knows, maybe one of my stories will make it onto a screen!


Gigi Cesarè as Emily and her on screen dad played by Robert Sciglimpaglia rehearsing a scene on set of film Within and Without. Shot in Connecticut 12/10/2017

Can we get a quick selfie of whatever you are doing right now?

Oh my gosh, ok here goes! Thank you Willie and TWK! I love your vibe and what you do for teens everywhere. Thank you for this fun chat sesh!

Not Everybody’s Doing It: Why Teen Drug Use is Declining

If you were to base what you know on popular movies and television shows, it would be easy to think that most teens are doing drugs and drinking. It’s become very normalized in the entertainment world, but this hasn’t been reflecting the cultural change among teens when it comes to illicit substances. In recent years, teenagers have been turning away from drugs in large numbers.

Drug Use Declining

Surveys show that younger and older teenagers are both choosing to abstain from drugs and alcohol at higher rates. The Monitoring the Future study looks at the habits of thousands of young people, and their results have shown that except marijuana, drug use is down from recent peaks in young people. Explanations for this trend vary. One explanation is that today’s teens are structuring their leisure time more than they used to. According to 449recovery.org, boredom and stress are significant factors in drug abuse and drug relapse. Entertainment technologies and extracurricular activities such as team sports, dance, or martial arts relieve stress and prevent boredom, allowing less time and temptation for drug use. Another theory put forth by TIME is that prescription drugs have essentially replaced illicit drugs as emotional outlet for teens suffering from mental illness.

Less Smoking

Another possible reason drug use could be down is that cigarette smoking has also gone down, and these two behaviors tend to be connected. Public awareness about the dangers of smoking cigarettes only tends to go up as the years go by. There are fewer people smoking, and this trend also applies to teenagers. They are likely more aware of the health concerns and have seen more of the public health campaigns that highlight the dangers of cigarette use. Studies show that nicotine leads to other drug use in many people. It primes the brain to be more interested in other drugs and to make them seem more appealing. Because teens are smoking fewer cigarettes, their brains aren’t as primed for other drug use like previous generations might have been. Hopefully, this change will bring about fewer teens going to rehab.

Increase in Marijuana

Another possible reason for the general trend of less drug use is the increased availability and normalization of marijuana use. While the Monitoring the Future survey did show a decrease in the use of most drugs, marijuana use was reported at higher rates among older teens. There is a broader social trend of marijuana acceptance, and teens are likely not immune to this. There is also an increased ease of access to the drug, due to its legalization in many states. Teens are likely to choose it over other drugs because they think it is safer and easier to get.

 

Teen drug use is still a problem, but it is on the decline. Parents can rest easier knowing most young people are choosing to abstain. This is a healthy choice to leads to better futures.

Where Does Sexual Education Need to Catch Up?

It seems as though everyone vividly remembers how they were taught sexual education in high school. While a few may have had positive learning experiences, it seems the majority had ones that were very short-sighted in being useful. High school classrooms are always awkward for bringing up sensitive subjects, but sexual education should be one area that is thoroughly explained and taught with care. Unfortunately, sexual education and anatomy is something most public schools fail at teaching, and here’s why.

Homosexuality is Never Mentioned

In a study researching the experiences young people had in sex education, many had classes that were very science-based and technical, focusing on only relations between men and women. This leaves lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered students completely out of the picture, making the material much less relevant or useful. With rising numbers of LGBT youth in America, it doesn’t make sense to exclude them from this important conversation.

Some Sexual Activities Are Not Covered

Only sexual intercourse between a male and female is ever mentioned in most high schools, and no other sexual activities are recognized in classes, some of which could even be considered “safe sex”. While a high school course shouldn’t have to cover everything, such a limited view of sex is hurting students, and making the information outdated.

Only Abstinence is Discussed as a Contraceptive

Some schools go as far as teaching abstinence as the only ‘safe’ option, failing to educate about any contraceptives at all. Not only is this teaching method proven to be ineffective, but unexpected pregnancies that occur without the right education can be far more dangerous to teens. Not only that, but many schools don’t even consider discussing unplanned pregnancies with their students, so these women aren’t taught about safe options to take in these situations, such as adoption or the few abortion centers that help young mothers with child care and family planning rather than just kill the fetus.

Desire, Pleasure, and Consent are not Mentioned

For many schools, consent in never brought up or explained adequately. Everyone sticks to the physical mechanics of sex, while emotional aspects are always left out. In a similar vein, female sexual desire is sometimes not even acknowledged. One teen girl in a 2009 U.S. study said, “I think that they depict it was the guy wants to have sex and the girl doesn’t… They don’t realize that a lot of girls want to have sex, too. And so I don’t think that they focus on that enough at all.” Most sexual education makes it seem like only men have sexual pleasure, making for a very skewed depiction of straight sexual relationships.

Schools today are falling short on the information they teach in their sexual education classes. Whatever you may have been taught could be better or worse, but it’s definitely a subject worth discussing and changing for future generations.

4 Ways to Get Involved in Your Community

One the things you may hear over and over again from your parents and teachers is that you need to be involved in your community. But what does that actually mean? Are you supposed to add another crazy thing to your school, extracurricular, and work commitments? Do they really expect you to balance all of that? Fortunately, there are some ways that you can give back that don’t require you to commit to a huge project.

Serve Meals to the Needy

If there is a homeless shelter in your area, this can be a great place to volunteer a few extra hours that you may have. Many homeless shelters in the local area are always in need of an extra set of helping hands in the kitchen each week. You can assist with preparing meals and serving homeless families who will feel cared for with a warm meal that they receive. Whether you cut up vegetables or clean up after the meal is served, you can enjoy giving back to those who are less fortunate.

Donate Your Resources

One of the problems with being a teen is that you outgrow things so fast. You need new clothes every few months, especially if you hit a growth spurt. Something you needed for a project last year is now just gathering dust in a corner. You can donate all of these things and help members of your community who are in need. There are plenty of places that are looking for clothing donations, particularly for people your age, so consider going through your closet and finding all the things you no longer use and donate them.

Shop Locally

You may not be making a lot of the purchasing decisions for your family, but you still spend money on things, and you can choose where you put that money. If there are local businesses in your area, try to support them when you can. Visit the farmer’s markets to find healthy snacks and visit small boutique stores for clothing items when making purchases.

Help with Cleanup

Making your community better and helping cleanup could mean contributing to big projects, but it can also mean doing the little things. When you are walking around, if you see trash on the ground, pick it up. If you are a park and something is broken, report it to the parks department so they can get it fixed. Being conscious of your surroundings gives you an opportunity to pitch and make your community a better place without spending hours on a big project.

When you want to get involved with your community and make a difference, there are several ways to serve. With the right mindset and action taken, you can create a better place to live and will also inspire others to help.

Napping Is Healthy For Teens But Why?

It seems teenagers feel tired almost all the time. Waking up early in the morning for school, studying all day long, doing extracurricular activities and hanging out with friends and family can wear anyone out, I know! Plus, the science of sleep says it’s entirely reasonable for the natural sleep patterns to change during adolescence, shifting towards later hours for going to bed and waking up.

Staying up late during weekdays and sleeping belated on the weekends affects your biological clock and the quality of your rest. Thus, you are prone to various sleep disorders and also depression; but the most visible and immediate effects are looking bad, feeling moody and performing poorly in school or other activities. Lack of sleep affects your ability to learn, concentrate and solve problems; it makes you more prone to acne, aggressive behavior, irritability, and anxiety. As if all of these are not enough, there’s also a high risk of becoming overweight because sleep deprivation usually leads to overeating.

So what can you do? Experts say you need 9 to 10 hours of sleep to perform at your best, but you just can’t seem to be able to get it! Luckily, there’s a trick that can help your brain and body: napping. And let me tell you why:

Napping means getting energy

Naps make you feel energized and ready to function properly. They improve your performances: you’ll be able to concentrate better and give your best to whatever you might be doing.

Naps restore vigilance

It’s usually in the early afternoon that you feel your vitality fading out: you get a bit sleepy and lose your focus. A quick nap will bring back your sharpness, and you’ll be amazed how much you can accomplish after only 20 – 30 minutes of good rest.

Naps improve your learning ability

Short naps (also known as “power naps”) are a common habit even at NASA. Several studies (including the one conducted by NASA) have shown that power naps improve the memory process of consolidation, which is a big help for anyone who wants to learn something new.

Napping prevents burnout

Burnout is a condition of our modern society always on the run, still trying to achieve more. It affects teenagers, in the same manner as it impacts adults. To prevent such a thing from happening to you, consider napping once, every day. It will save you from feeling frustrated and stressed.

Naps make you more productive

Maybe productivity is not the ultimate goal at this age, but it’s a means to an end. So you need to give your best to accomplish what you want, and napping can help you do this. Plus, taking a short nap in the afternoon will make you feel good, and that’s a perfect reason to make it a habit.

But here’s the trick: to be effective, the power nap shouldn’t be longer than 30 minutes. If you go over this particular time interval, you’ll wake up feeling groggy, and your performance will suffer. The experts say that the optimal nap should last precisely 26 minutes. The best time to take such a nap is during the afternoon: not too soon after you woke up, not to close to bedtime. And try to turn off electronic devices while taking a nap. Lie down on your comfortable mattress – if you don’t have one yet, visit Try Mattress’s website to find out which model suits you best – and enjoy half an hour of relaxation. Everything will seem different afterward.

The preceding was a sponsored post.

Last Minute Gift Ideas for Teens – Plus Giveaway!

Okay, its time for this year’s last minute gift guide and giveaway thanks to a few brands who have sent us some swag. We have a few unique goodies to feature, most of which you can still order and have shipped in time for Christmas. If you are hispanic, well then you have even more time because you can give these as Reyes Magos gifts! To enter our giveaway, scroll down to the bottom for details.

Pyro Pet $35

Pyro Pets are cool, long-lasting candles with a surprise: when they melt, they reveal a cool aluminum skeleton inside! They last about 20 hours, and each is approximately 5 inches tall. Varieties include dragons (shown), cats, wolves, and more!

Nostalgic Candy Club $19.99/month

Nostalgic Candy Club is a monthly subscription service offered on CrateJoy which gives you 6-8 candy choices per month, with a lot of throwbacks. The box we got had candy cigarettes, wax lips, Smarties, Pixie Sticks, and more! Watch our unboxing video above to see what you get in a sample box.

Artifacts of a ’90s Kid $16.99

Are you crazy about the 1990s? Maybe you were too young to remember those days (or weren’t even born yet), but trust us: the days when acts like Ashanti, Nelly, Ja Rule, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G. ruled the airwaves and shows like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, X-Files and Friends were the highlights of TV were pretty dope.

You can relive some of the 1990s through Artifacts of a ’90s Kid by Alana Hitchell, a scrapbook/journal of sorts which takes you into the mind of a Millenial as she grows up during one of the best decades EVER.

“She reminds you what it was like to grow up during an era that consisted of playing countless hours of Nintendo, reading Lurlene McDaniel books, and wearing Esprit T-shirts and Yoyo jeans. With no real responsibilities to worry about, a typical day involved playing board games, eating junk food, and obsessing over the latest Lisa Frank stickers.”

FUNimation Anime Subscription $5.99/month

gifts for teens

Japanese anime fans love FUNimation, the leading anime distributor in the US. In addition to licensing and selling DVD/Blurays of the best titles, they also offer a streaming service with features ad-free unlimited streaming for only $5.99 per month.

You can get two titles as part of our giveaway: Shonen Hollywood: Holly Stage for 50: Season Two and One Piece Film: Gold Movie!

JT Spencer Key Fobs $20

Looking for something cool for a friend who doesn’t really need anything? How about a unique, high quality key fob? We didn’t think we needed one either, but we love the one J.T Spencer sent us (and you can win the one pictured as part of our giveaway!).

  • Designs cover everything from the time-honored American Flag to quirky designs. J.T.Spencer makes an effort to offer unique motifs on timeless and classically styled products that appeal to everyone.
  • Available at JTSpencer.com as well as fine retail outlets, prestigious golf, yacht, athletic and country clubs along with universities and colleges across America

Battlefield Earth MP3 Audiobook USB $35

Sci-fi legend L. Ron Hubbard’s New York Times best-selling sci-fi novel, Battlefield Earth MP3 audiobook is available on a 8 GB USB flash drive. Okay, the movie sucked big time, but the book itself is pretty great, and this audiobook does it justice with high production values and great acting from 67 voice actors performing 198 characters.

“In the year AD 3000, Earth is a barren wasteland, plundered of its natural resources by the millennium-long regime of taloned, gas-breathing, nine-foot alien conquerors from the planet Psychlo. Fewer than 35,000 humans survive in a handful of communities scattered across the face of a postapocalyptic Earth. From a desolate village in the Rocky Mountains near what once was Denver, Colorado, a courageous young man named Jonnie Goodboy Tyler embarks on a hero’s journey to challenge the fearful myths of his people. Enslaved by the sadistic Terl, the Psychlo security chief of Earth, Jonnie and a small band of survivors pit their quest for freedom against Terl’s ruthless ambition for personal wealth and power in a rebellion that erupts across the continents of Earth and the cosmic sprawl of the Psychlo empire, with the fate of the world, of mankind, and of the galaxies beyond in the balance.”

• 47½ hours of entertainment and adventure in high-definition sound.

• Cinematic-quality soundtrack with more than 150,000 sound effects.

• Convenient to listen to in your car, on your device or on your computer. Plays on any MP3 enabled player.

Devil in Ohio $17.99

Just because its Christmas, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good spooky book. And Devil in Ohio by Daria Polatin fits the bill, with some great reviews on Amazon and elsewhere.

“When fifteen-year-old Jules Mathis comes home from school to find a strange girl sitting in her kitchen, her psychiatrist mother reveals that Mae is one of her patients at the hospital and will be staying with their family for a few days. But soon Mae is wearing Jules’s clothes, sleeping in her bedroom, edging her out of her position on the school paper, and flirting with Jules’s crush. And Mae has no intention of leaving.

Then things get weird.

Jules walks in on a half-dressed Mae, startled to see: a pentagram carved into Mae’s back. Jules pieces together clues and discovers that Mae is a survivor of the strange cult that’s embedded in a nearby town. And the cult will stop at nothing to get Mae back.”

Christmas Bluetooth Speakers, Tumbler Santa Claus $25.99 (Get 50 PERCENT OFF USING OUR DISCOUNT CODE — WATCH VIDEO TO GET IT!!!!)

This is a pretty cute little gift. It plays Christmas music, some other childhood songs, and functions as a bluetooth speaker. It also lights up! Check out our review above for our review and a 50% discount coupon code!

Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide $25

Break the stereotype of the helpless girl who needs a guy to change her tire, or otherwise work on her car, by educating yourself on the ins and outs of maintaining your whip. Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide by Patrice Banks shoudl be in every girl’s glove box!

“Patrice Banks was once like most of us: a self-professed “auto airhead” who was clueless about car maintenance, yet convinced that mechanics were taking advantage of her. Now she’s an auto pro devoted to empowering women to learn basic car repairs and knowing what to do in an emergency. So whether you get a flat tire when you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere, your car overheats, or a mysterious dashboard light suddenly starts blinking, help is just a reach-in-the-glove-box away.”

GIVEAWAY!

  1. Follow @teenswannaknow on Instagram http://instagram.com/teenswannaknow
  2. Like the giveaway picture below on our Instagram account, and tag or mention a friend in the comments.
  3. We will pick a random winner on Wednesday, December 13th from those who followed directions correctly.
  4. Winner must live in the U.S.

 

How to Find the Right College: Tips for Prospective Freshmen

Picking a college is a major step. The right choice can help new students on the road to academic success, which paves the way for advancement later in life. On the other hand, even a good student can struggle if they pick a college that is a poor fit for their personality and goals. Picking the right college involves looking at a variety of different factors, but there are a few broad things that every prospective student should keep in mind.

Environment Matters

Every university has its own unique culture. Some are known as party schools, while others tend more towards strict study and austerity, while some have religious components. A poor cultural fit will lead to discomfort and distraction that can cause a student’s grades to suffer. It will also ruin their social life if they can’t make friends outside of the school.

The best way for students to get a good fit is to understand their goals and the sort of environment that they like before making their choice. Visiting the school and talking with students there can also help with finding a good fit.

Consider Digital Options

Almost every college has some digital presence, but some rely much more on digital resources than others. In some cases, students can take entire classes over the Internet, or access learning tools through a digital platform rather than buying expensive textbooks. In some cases, people even get their degrees digitally. Some people thrive in that environment, while others struggle with it, so it is important for potential students to know themselves and decide if the level of digital integration in the college’s classes suits them. You can also find universities that exist only online. These courses tend to take less time and money, so this may be a good option if you want to earn your degree quickly.

Check for Courses

Students who know what they want to study should take the time to make sure that all of their potential choices offer good courses on that topic. Most schools excel in one or two areas and are only adequate in the others, so this can be an important step.

It’s also vital to check for elective courses outside of that field. Many people find their interests changing as they learn more, and picking a school with plenty of different classes offers the best opportunity to pursue emerging interests. This is especially important for people who don’t go to college with a firm study plan in mind, but it can be useful for any student.

Look for Connections

Networking is often the key to finding a job after college. In many cases, people make valuable connections at their school, either through their teachers and fellow students or networking events with graduates. It can be hard to predict where students will meet somebody valuable, but it is best to pick a school that has a reputation for graduates who find success in the student’s field of interest. Not only is that a sign of a good education, but it increases the chance that student will make connections that are valuable in that field.

The Final Choice

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when picking a college, but it’s important to power through that feeling, research as much as possible about the options, and make a rational choice based on that information. A lot of your choice depends on the individual student’s goals, so it is also important for them to think carefully about what they want to achieve while they are in college. Those who do so will often find that their choice gets much easier, and they are the ones who are most likely to be happy with their choice once they start their academic careers.