Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Educational Theatre

Y4C (Youth 4 Change) has added a new element to our community mobilization efforts regarding adolescent sexual health. On Wednesday, February 8th, 2012 we will be introducing our first educational theater piece at our first community conversation of the year. The topic is Stigma and how it creates barriers for adolescents to properly care for their health. The young people of Y4C have hit the ground running with their acting skills and preparing skits that will not only capture an audience’s attention, but it will create a perfect avenue for legitimate discussion on topics such as; teen pregnancy, homosexuality, bullying, STD prevention, and parent/youth communication. These topics are sensitive but need to be addressed so our young people have a level of comfort to openly discuss their concerns and also get the proper health services that they need. This is the first of hopefully many Y4C educational theater performances, so stay tuned!
The event, A Community Conversation on Stigma & Adolescent Sexual Health, will be held on Wednesday, February 8, 2012, 3:00 - 5:00 p.m., at Action for a Better Community, Action Front Center, 33 Chestnut Street, 2nd  Floor Rochester, NY  14604.  Both youth and adults are invited.  Let's start the dialog! 

Y4C Rehearsing Educational Theatre for Community Conversation on Stigma & Adolescent Sexual Health

Friday, January 20, 2012

Letter to Rochester City School District Board

Next week, on January 26, the Rochester City School Board will vote on policy changes that provides comprehensive sexual health education and access to prevention resources (condoms) to high school students.  ABC Youth Leaders drafted a letter to the Commissioners of Health.  They are asking community members to sign this letter and they will deliver them to the school board members.

Board of Education
Rochester City School District
131 West Broad Street
Rochester, NY  14614

Dear Commissioners:

I support the proposed changes in the Rochester City School District AIDS education policy.  I believe this policy will provide students with the information and resources necessary for them to take personal responsibility and make informed decisions for their sexual health.  The rates of HIV, STIs and unintended teen pregnancies among Rochester youth create a public health issue and demand a call to action by the entire community.

Young people today are bombarded with mixed messages from media, social networking and peers that often leave them misinformed and confused.  I believe that teachers, school nurses, health educators and school based clinic staff will play an active role in providing students with the information and resources needed to make healthy decisions.  I acknowledge and support the active roles that parents play in educating their children around sexual health, but there are many students who have no one.    They need the unbiased professional who will listen and guide them without judgment. 

Rochester teens have identified the lack of access to condoms (for sexually active youth) as a barrier to their sexual health.  There is a misperception that access to condoms encourages sexual activity.  Research demonstrates that condom availability programs in schools do not result in increased sexual activity but in fact increase condom usage for sexually active youth.  I believe that condom education and access from a school educator or health care professional in the RCSD will demonstrate equal success.

I appreciate the time and commitment the RCSD Board members have put forth in addressing this issue.  I encourage you to listen to the facts and science behind the issue and not make decisions out of misinformation or fear.   I sincerely urge you to take action to address the sexual health education and access to services for your students and vote to pass the AIDS Education policy before you.

Thank you very much!


Youth 4 Change
ABC Action Front Center Youth Leaders

Thursday, December 15, 2011

World AIDS Day 2011

World AIDS Day Commissioner's Award

By: John Franklin

December 1, 2011 as we all know was World Aids Day. On the day prior, my program, Youth for Change, took part in hosting the Worlds Aids Day Photo Voice event at City Hall. Unfortunately I could not attend the event due to having to go to a ceremony in Albany to accept the AIDS Institute World AIDS Day Commissioner's award. I saw the opportunity as an honor, and a novel experience that motivated me to do more work in my community. However, the award itself wasn’t the highlight of the journey. When I arrived in Albany after a four hour drive from Rochester, I could feel my enthusiastic attitude rising as anticipation motivated me to take step after step. I cherished each and every step before entering into the sanctuary where the ceremony was held. As I walked around looking amazed at the fine art that was presented before me, I suddenly stopped after realizing that what I was observing was more than art. It was the emotional tapestry woven together by the hands of those who lost loved ones in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Aisle after aisle of large quilts with designs, and each quilt represented a memorial to the designer’s loved ones. The emotional burden that I felt weighed on my heart, but I could not bring myself to stop until I saw every last quilt.
After embracing the personal stories told through the quilts, the ceremony began and I understood what a privilege it was to be sitting there. I usually don’t care too much for awards, but this one was different. I watched others accept there awards, and saw the same look of determination in their eyes that I had in my heart. Once they called the Rochester Coalition to Stop HIV members up, I stood holding back a burst of emotion from witnessing such an event. I accepted my certificate and felt a strong urge to get back to my city, not because I was uninterested in what was happening there. I needed to get back so The next time I went to an award ceremony I could stand up with pride in knowing that HIV/AIDS was a thing of the past.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Threshold Tour and Services

A few weeks ago we took our youth leadership group, Youth 4 Change, on a tour of Threshold, based in Community Place on Parsells Ave. We wanted the youth to get a look and feel of Threshold and all of the services that they offer. They offer quite a bit of services that are more than just health care.

Health Care Services

If you have insurance or not, Threshold offers primary health care and wellness services to 12-25 year-old Monroe County residents.  A sliding fee scale is available and no one is turned away.  Appointments encouraged, but not required. Services include:
  • Birth control
  • STI Testing
  • HIV Testing
  • Physicals
  • Primary Care
If you have no insurance, all you need  is a school ID (or other picture ID), social security number and proof of where you live, to sign up for some and get seen by a nurse. If you have a job you will need to bring proof of income so what you pay is adjusted accordingly.

They also offer Substance Abuse Prevention Services.
Threshold’s counselors provide help and support when you need it and are with you every step of the way.
  • Drug prevention education and information
  • Individual and group counseling
  • Classroom presentations
  • Assessment and referral services
  • Community outreach
If you are between the ages of 17 and 25 they also offer job readiness training and GED classes
Threshold’s Learning Center/Job Readiness programs can help you succeed in reaching your personal goals.  Programs include:
  • GED preparation
  • Job-readiness training
  • Programs to get you ready for the work force; assistance with  job applications, coaching for employer visits
So if you are in need of any of these services and are between the ages of 13 to 24 I would encourage you to check out Threshold. They are a big help and great service to the community.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

ACLU Presentation on Youth Rights.

Yesterday afternoon we had a local representative from the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) come in and talk with us about Youth Rights, with a focus on Adolescent Sexual Health.   There is a lot of misinformation about the rights of teens to sexual health care. 

If you are 17 years or under, you have the right to get sexual health services on your own in New York.  You can get confidential services that include:  Birth Control (condoms & birth control); Emergency Contraception; Pregnancy Tests & Prenatal Care; Sexually Transmitted Infection Tests & Care; Abortion Services; Sexual Assault Care.  You do not need permission from your parents, boyfriend, girlfriend, or anyone else for these services.

The conversation was also very informative and created a very interesting conversation about rights young people have at schools.  In Rochester, N.Y., the school district requires that all schools hang signs in the door that says in so many words that if you walk into the school you consent to walking through metal detectors and to having your personal things searched. The question was is that legal? Since you have to go to school and you don't sign paperwork that says you consent can they search you? Likewise do you have the right to refuse the search if prompted.

The fact that it may be a violation of rights and possibly unethical fueled the conversation empowering them to take more control over the situation and refusing to consent to being searched and having items taken. Very informing and powerful conversation.

You can check on the NYACLU website at

Friday, September 16, 2011

PhotoVoice: Real Eyes Photo Exhibit by Youth 4 Change

“Vision is more than what we see.  It is the foundation of what makes dreams turn into reality. Society has turned away from truth. Don’t be content with the lies, look beyond. Realize the real lies in the “Real Eyes” Photo Exhibit”.    Quote by Youth 4 Change, Sr. Youth Leader, John Franklin
PhotoVoice, a form of participatory action research, brings forth the voice and vision of those most impacted through photo journalism.  Youth 4 Change, the group of youth leaders at ABC Action Front Center created the "Real Eyes" Photo Voice Exhibit to inform the community about the assets and barriers to adolescent sexual health, in Rochester, NY.  The exhibit, held on May 26, 2011, at The Strong Museum of Play, compiled 60 pictures created and edited by the youth, portrayed themes of adolescent homelessness, lack of information & resources, invisibility and hopelessness as barriers to adolescent sexual health.  They also highlighted community assets such as  culture, safe places, civic engagement and more.  We look forward to our next PhotoVoice Exhibit in December of 2011.