Hello New World,
I know, I normally blog on photography, but I also want to show the world I am not just a one-sided coin. So I want to begin to blog about things that are personal, as well as interesting to me, and to you, as well.
One thing that is very near to me is teen health. Anyone that knows me knows that I am quick to say, “Whatever those kids are talking about, I don’t want to hear it!” Mainly, because of the stream of profanities that comes along with somewhat of a statement.
Well, if you don’t know, DC has a high HIV/AIDS rate. Although it has gone down, in recent years, it is still the highest among the African American community. So what is one way to educate our community? One way is by teaching the young. Well, how do you teach a generation that doesn’t seem to be interested in listening? My favorite way is “PARTY UP!”
Yeah, old head partying. LOL!
The Sasha Bruce Youthwork Prevention, Outreach, Wellness, Education and Risk Reduction (P.O.W.E.R.) Program launches an HIV testing social media campaign (#Never2Early), and it is hosting a teen day party, on June 20th. I was able to catch up with one HIV Tester/Counselor, Jasmine Williams, to chat with her on the program and party.
Me: Tell me about “YouthWork”?
Jasmine: The founder’s name is Debra Shore. Debra started the organization in 1974 to help out runaway and homeless teens. Two years later, the organization gained the recognition of Evangeline Bruce, Ambassador David Bruce wife, following the tragic death of their daughter, Sasha. Mrs. Bruce donated the money to the organization in her daughter’s memory.
Me: What is the P.O.W.E.R. Program?
Jasmine: P.O.W.E.R., which stands for prevention, outreach, wellness, education, and risk reduction, is one of the 16 programs. This program is to educate young people on issues surrounding their sexual health. The primary focus is on HIV-AIDS and teen pregnancy prevention. We (the organization), also, offer other services that include testing, teen counseling, and workshops.
Me: Why did the P.O.W.E.R. program create the #Never2Early Social Media Campaign?
Jasmine: During our HIV testing and counseling sessions, we (the counselors) are finding out that a lot of the young people are engaging in sexual activity, as well as engaged in unsafe risky behaviors but they’ve never been tested. This is very dangerous because, given the nature of STDs and HIV, a lot of times, no symptoms initially and he/she will continue to have sex with different partners spreading the disease unknowingly to their partners because they’ve never been tested. So this campaign is to target teens that have never tested before, given their current life activities. We want the teens to incorporate this as a part of their overall healthcare.
Me: What age group does the campaign focus on?
Jasmine: The campaign focuses on ages 13 to 24, as well as the organization. So, we have encountered young people that have told us that they been sexual active as early as 11 years old, so honestly, if it was up to me, I would have the age for consent for sexual services start at 11 or 12, but 13 is the age for our services.
*Side Note-Jasmine just sent me a link on DC minor’s consent. It state, “A minor of any age may consent to health services which he or she requests for the
prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of the following medical situations:
(a) Pregnancy or its lawful termination;
(b) Substance abuse, including drug and alcohol abuse; and
(c) A mental or emotional condition and sexually transmitted disease.”
Me: To mark the launch, of the campaign, the program has an event, on June 20th. Can you tell me more about it?
Jasmine: The program will be hosting a day party for teens between the ages of 14 and 18. This day party is simply an opportunity for young people to be in a safe environment, so they can enjoy themselves with the company of their peers and food, but to also have important information at their fingertips. It’s not in a setting that the school mandated. The event is going to be very casual music dancing, and we’ll be able to bring some of the services that we offer, to the teen community like HIV testing.
So, on June 20, 2015, come out to Liv Night Club, located at 2001 11th St. NW, Washington, DC, and check it! It’s from 2 p.m.–6 p.m. It’s going to be free food, music, and testing. I will be there shooting.