Welcome, Marisol!

Marisol De Leon on zip line
Marisol gets a flying start

I’m delighted to announce that Marisol De Leon is joining the ACT for Youth Training and Technical Assistance team! A talented trainer with deep knowledge, Marisol comes to us with an extensive portfolio in the fields of positive youth development and adolescent sexual health. From designing an HIV prevention curriculum at the Hetrick-Martin Institute way back in 2004, to educating 10,000 NYC middle and high school students about reproductive health during her years at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, to serving as the CAPP Coordinator, among other roles, at DREAM (formerly Harlem RBI) – Marisol has done it all. She is also bilingual in English and Spanish. Total number of students educated over her career so far? Upwards of 18,000.

Marisol will be based in New York City with Michele Luc and Sara Birnel Henderson at Cornell University Cooperative Extension of NYC. She can be reached at: md696@cornell.edu

Please join me in welcoming Marisol!

 

– Jutta

How do you deal with staff turnover?

In our experience of CAPP and PREP, staff turnover happens frequently. Educators may stay for a year or less and move on to other positions. We also see Health Educator Supervisors move on to other jobs, although this occurs less frequently.

This dilemma leads me to ask…

What strategies have you used to prevent educator turnover? Not all projects experience frequent staff turnover. Since increasing salaries is usually not an option, I am especially interested in finding out what practices  you have found to be effective in keeping educators engaged and motivated to stay on the job.

What strategies do you use to screen potential candidates? How do you find the best candidate for the job, a candidate with some staying power?

What do you do to prepare and onboard new educators and supervisors to the CAPP and PREP project? I think many projects would love to hear about your experiences and effective practices. Please share your ideas by commenting on this post.

Resource

Remember the CAPP and PREP Toolkits? Last year we put together toolkits for CAPP and PREP Supervisors with in order to create an institutional memory about the project, its purpose and goals, and key implementation strategies. Our hope was that it would help orient new staff to the project. Toolkit binders were distributed to each project at Provider Day—it may be somewhere in your office right now! We recently updated the CAPP and PREP Toolkits and made them available on the ACT website. Browse the list—you may find a new resource, or one you had forgotten.

 

– Jutta

Welcome, Vanessa!

We are excited to introduce our newest Vanessa AmankwaaACT for Youth staff member, Vanessa Amankwaa. Vanessa recently graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in Development Sociology, Distinction in Research, having minored in both Global Health and Human Development. Her research honors thesis focused on disparities in drug sentencing between the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s and the current opioid epidemic. Vanessa has also spent time conducting research and health promotion in Tanzania, working with HIV positive women, among others. Originally from the Bronx, she is nevertheless prepared for Ithaca winters thanks to her years at Cornell!

Vanessa is a member of the evaluation team, and much of her effort will be concentrated there. She is also taking over some of Amy’s previous administrative responsibilities. (Never fear, Amy is still with ACT for Youth, but she has taken on some new responsibilities with another research project here at Cornell.) Vanessa will now be your point of contact for training registration, so you will be hearing from her now and then.  She can be reached at vka22@cornell.edu or 607-255-8790.

Please join me in welcoming Vanessa to the ACT team!

 

– Jane

Teaching pleasure — for the sake of safety, protection and empowerment!

Nika Norvila, CAPP Health Educator at Northwell Health, brings us this perspective. CAPP and PREP providers, please continue the conversation in the comments!

As CAPP and PREP providers we are bound to the evidence-based curricula we are assigned to facilitate. Whether it’s Making Proud Choices! or Be Proud! Be Responsible!, pleasure is not a subject that we delve into very deeply. I am not trying to advocate for the re-vamping of our EBPs or for educators to make any red-light adaptations, but rather for educators to consider the value of including pleasure in the conversations we have with our students, whether it is in one-on-one sessions, add-on sessions after EBP cycles, or–for the lucky few–workshops and group activities in our own spaces.

As health educators we are worried about unintended pregnancies, STDs, and HIV–which are all very important and valid for youth. However, when we think about why a lot of people have sex, including adults, the most common reason is for pleasure. People have sex because sex (hopefully to some degree, most of the time, for most people) feels good. To ignore this aspect of sex when teaching about sex seems unfair to the young people who are curious and well-deserving of truthful information about the ever present topic of sex and sexuality.

Some studies have shown that teaching youth about sexual pleasure and treating them like sexually autonomous beings allows them to feel like responsible sexual agents who need to take responsibility for adult things, like having sex.

In her book Girls & Sex (2016), through over seventy interviews with young women across the U.S., Peggy Orenstein explores the current of sex and sexuality. Orenstein writes, “If girls are unable to advocate for their own pleasure, they are also less likely to feel able to advocate for their own safety. Emphasizing male pleasure, especially without teaching about consent, perpetuates rape culture. Pain or uncomfortable sexual encounters are normalized for girls and women. In all kinds of ways, we expect women to be complacent in their discomfort.”

Teaching teens, but particularly teaching young women and girls, about pleasure–which historically has been intentionally dismissed and ignored–can not only led to better sex, but to safer sex, and to more empowered girls and women inside AND outside the bedroom.

Without re-vamping our EBPs, how can health educators incorporate pleasure into conversations and lessons with our students without taking away the intended messages of the EBPs? Would talking to students about pleasure detract from any of our safe sex messages, or simply make them stronger, if there is a link between pleasure, consent and safety? Can’t we hope that new messages of pleasure for women and girls will empower them? By learning about the clitoris and encouraging adolescents to explore their bodies, to learn what feels good, what doesn’t feel good, and where their boundaries are, leave them feeling empowered to only seek sexual encounters that feel good to them, instead of feeling only pressured to perform and please their male partners?

Please share your thoughts, questions and comments. You can also email me: nnorvila@northwell.edu

Nika Norvila – Nika Norvila, Northwell Health

Farewell, Divine!

As many of you have heard, Divine has accepted an exciting new position at Binghamton University and will be leaving us at the end of this week.

Having served on both the Evaluation and TA/Training teams, Divine is a true team player who has contributed enormously to our work. She has always been willing to stretch to meet new challenges. We’ll miss her thoughtful insights, warmth, steadiness — and her infectious laugh!

We are happy for you, Divine, but we will miss you so much!

– The ACT for Youth team

Mary, Divine, Michele, and Heather at Provider Day in Albany, 2016

 

Sara, Heather, Ravhee, Divine, Michele in Albany, 2014

Divine and Brian in Kennedy office, 2013

Brian, Divine, Christy, Jenny working in conference room, 2014

Michele, Divine 2017

Beth, Michele, Divine, and Heather, 2017

HIV Prevention and Education: PrEP, PEP, and U=U

Christopher Culp, Outreach and Education Specialist at Planned Parenthood of Central & Western New York, sent us this post to open discussion among CAPP and PREP colleagues. Please comment to continue the conversation!

Be Proud! Be Responsible! is an HIV prevention curriculum and it contains a lot of information about HIV.  Yet, even with the 2016 version, there are some new and exciting shifts in HIV prevention that are missed.  Three of those are PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), PEP (Post-Exposure Prophylaxis), and U=U (Undetectable=Untransmittable).  These three are key tools in HIV prevention and education toolbox, specifically empowering people to take control of their sexual health and fight against stigma.  This is especially important as New York State carries out its Ending the Epidemic initiative for 2020.

I know that we all teach from various backgrounds and experiences.  I was wondering if we could have a discussion based on these advancements to perhaps support each other in developing well-rounded education and referrals for the youth we work with.  I’d like to start off with a few questions and see where people are in incorporating PrEP, PEP, and U=U into their programming.

1) Do you talk about PrEP in your programming (an adaptation)?

2) Do you talk about PEP in your programming (an adaptation)?

3) Do you talk about U=U in your programming (an adaptation)?  (This can be sensitive, as some organizations have not signed onto the U=U consensus, though NYS has.)

4) Do you think there is value in including one or more of the above topics in your adaptations?

5) If you do include these, do you face any challenges in teaching or incorporating it into your programs?

6) How easy is it to have a list of referrals for youth that are interested in PrEP, PEP, or U=U in your community?

7) Do you make any adaptations to directly address HIV stigma? If so, what are they?

Thank you all.  Please feel free to email me directly if you have questions – christopher.culp@ppcwny.org

  – Christopher Culp

Find more about PrEP and PEP here on the HIV/AIDS page.

Learn about U=U from the Prevention Access Campaign.

EBPs in School Classrooms: Have you encountered any special challenges?

Most of you deliver evidence-based programs in school classrooms, often in health education classes. I am interested in exploring to what degree you encounter behavior challenges during programming. As I have heard from many of you, classroom management can be an issue. Naturally, classroom behavior can be impacted by many external factors such as the structure and control provided by the regular teacher, as well as school climate and organization–but sometimes the issues may arise from personal challenges that students are facing.

I would like to hear from you how often you think you have students in the class who are not participating or engaging because of special needs. Students who are very withdrawn or anxious, struggle with impulse control and attention, or have a tough time comprehending specific program activities may be coping with disabilities. Is this a common occurrence outside of special education classes? And what specific behavior challenges do you experience?

Depending on your responses, we may want to form a learning collaborative that could take a stab at developing strategies and adaptations to enable these students to participate and engage.

What has your experience been? Let us know in the comments.

  – Jutta

New Learning Collaborative: Parent Engagement

Sometimes the only thing harder than being a parent, is engaging a parent.

In response to the feedback we’ve gotten through conversations and the needs assessment, we will soon begin a learning collaborative around parent engagement and parent education workshops. We’ll discuss best practices and what the most recent research tells us.  We’ll also ask you, the practitioners, what has worked, what hasn’t worked, and what you think the most obvious challenges are,  and we’ll dive into what some of the hidden challenges may be.

Open to both Health Educator Supervisors and Educators, this learning collaborative will meet every other week for an hour via a Zoom meeting, over the course of several weeks. If we get a large response, we may limit the amount of participants–we really want folks who are going to participate and, well, be engaged.

At the end, participants will create a topics and tips sheet to share with the rest of the CAPP and PREP providers.

Our first meeting will take place Thursday, May 3rd, at 1pm. During that initial meeting, I’ll poll the group to see what day/time work best and go with whatever works for the majority of people. A link to register will be emailed out early next week, so be on the lookout for it!

Looking forward to talking more about this with you!

 – Heather

How Are You Using Incentives?

We asked Jessie Moore, Director of Sexuality Education at Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley, to talk about her experience trying out different incentives. Let us know in the comments what works and doesn’t work for your program, too!

Our CAPP program has been offering $25 gift cards for 100% completion and $10 gift cards for 75% program completion as EBP incentives. The only problem is that it isn’t often that we are giving out the $10 ones and purchasing them becomes a hassle. What are others doing? Only giving an incentive for 100%? Giving $25 for 75-100% completion? Just curious. We’re thinking about getting rid of the $10 card all together.

Also, this might be useful for some. We have found that using generic gift cards for stores like Walmart or Target was not as successful. When we have chosen to promote sneakers (Finish Line or Foot Locker), teen girl fashion (Forever 21), or video games (GameStop), we see an increase in interest. Going after gamers opened an entirely untapped audience for us!

You can now find the Incentives Guidance (Word) from DOH at the bottom of the EBP Implementation page.

  – Jessie Moore

 

Getting More from Your Kindle

We invited Gilbert Wu, Health Educator Supervisor at the Chinese-American Planning Council, to share his ideas on using Kindles creatively. Thank you, Gilbert! We’d love to hear your ideas, too–please share them in the comments.

Our PREP program requires that all entry and exit surveys be distributed to the participants during the start and finish of an EBP. The amazing thing is that the surveys can be answered through the use of Amazon Kindle Fires. However, when we were finished with using the Kindles we would just pack the Kindles away until the next use.

Kindles are Under-Utilized

We thought about how we have such a great resource but it is extremely underused. We can definitely make more use of the Kindles other than just data collection. Rather than having the Kindles stored away only for survey use, we can try to find ways to use them during our lessons. The participants can get to experience different kinds of learning styles with the Kindles; we just have to take advantage of the valuable technology we have right now. Therefore we decided to be resourceful by utilizing the Kindles in our lessons whenever we possibly can.

Getting Birth Control Information

One way we use the Kindles involves an adaptation to the birth control activity. In our adaptation, we have the participants research the information online instead of just listening to a lecture. When we unlock the Silk browser app, this lets the participants go online to look up the information about birth control. We have the participants read out to each other the answers that they have found, and the educators make sure the key information is shared. This helps create an environment where we can reassure that the information is correct and at the same time help the participants learn through their own gathering of information.

Adult Preparation Activities

We use the Kindles in our adulthood preparation workshops as well. In our financial literacy workshop “Budgeting to live on your own,” we utilize the Kindles by having the participants search for furnishing costs. The students are presented a scenario where there is a monthly income budget and need to pair up as roommates in order to live on their own. This group activity involves the participants keeping a budget while searching the cost of furnishing a room. They use the web browser to search for their preferred retailers, researching their best cost-effective methods for living realistically and comfortably. The possibilities of Kindle use can be endless, and it can go further as long as we are creative about the uses of Kindles.

Handle with Care!

Of course we have to take care of the Kindles as well. We have to ensure that they are all fully charged, functioning, and able to connect to a working internet connection, and we make sure that the parental controls are working. With the frequent use of the Kindles, we have to be handle them carefully to be sure that the precious equipment is working. We also have to take measures to ensure that they have covers for protection.

So I recommend to those who have the Kindles to take advantage of their versatility and to make full use when possible. We live in a modern age where our youth are constantly learning through the use of technology and this is a chance to provide that kind of experience. Best of luck to everyone!

  – Gilbert Wu