Reaction Blog: The IUD Project at Pro-Choice NY

The “Maybe The IUD” campaign was a recently launched promotion by Pro-Choice NY and the TORCH program to increase the knowledge and education surrounding the IUD methods of birth control. The TORCH program also launched an “IUD Teen Night” on April 19th, where teens from all over NYC were invited to attend a small gathering to learn more about this method of birth control. The purpose of this event was to debunk certain myths surrounding this method of contraception, that most of the time is often obtained by teens through misguided information from non-credible sources. Usually, these sources includes bogus websites offering ill-research information and misinterpreted consumer opinions that skew teens away from using this very effective method of birth control.

Some myths and facts surrounding the IUD are:

  • IUD’s are only for women who’ve had kids before
  • IUD’s increase the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • IUD’s increase the risk of STD’s
  • IUD’s increase the risk of ectopic pregnancies
  • IUD’s cause infertility in the long run
  • IUD’s cause perforations of the uterus
  • IUD’s  can fall out during sex

It is entirely wrong for organizations to promote such information for teens, especially when the above myths have proven to be exactly that – MYTHS! IUD Teen Night was a way for teens to get accurate information from people that share their same beliefs, ideas, and morals – other teens!

As one TORCH teen put it, in a T-Spot blog post saying, “…we got the purpose across which was to inform teens about the IUD and the myths that come from the media which limits TEENS to access this type of birth control”. To read more about this initiative please visit the Maybe The IUD website.




Reaction Blog: TORCH Teen Re-Blogged

I wanted to take the time to highlight the TORCH teens and their blog called the “T-Spot” and all of their wonderful and creative posts. Please take some time to look at some of the exciting and informative blogs and the issues that they have posted on.

Click the link to start exploring!

Great work TORCH!

Fieldwork Project at NARAL

During my internship at NARAL Pro-Choice, I was given the responsibility of working on numerous projects that were outside my original assigned duties. I was asked to conduct research and literature reviews on training front-line staff on how to communicate effectively with teens in a health care setting. The project composed of deriving information on what is to be considered “front-line staff”, how they interacted with the teens, whether clinics are teen-friendly, and the actual need for front-line training. During the process of the literature, various critical points were examined:

  • Perception and understand of adolescent development by front-line staff
  • Good communication skills
  • Respect and non-judgmental attitudes towards teens
  • Confidentiality
  • Service Integration
  • Appointment Scheduling
  • Creating a comfortable and welcoming environment
  • Teen participation and feedback
  • Clinic Support Services

The literature review and past research have identified such areas of focus as “best-practices”. Using these critical components, we used integral part in the development and dissemination of the “Front-Line Training” curriculum and evaluations. In preparation for the development of the training, our peer educators were also asked for their feedback since they were the facilitators that were going to be implementing said project. Questions that were identified in an intern-lead focus group were:

  • How comfortable do you feel talking to health care professionals?
  • What learning techniques are you most comfortable with?
  • How important is the communication between you and front-line staff at your doctor’s office?

After extensive, research and information gathering the AHCCP interns worked closely together to develop a curriculum that was both easy to teach for the teens, but understandable for the health care professionals they were servicing. The end product is still in revision, but the current edition is on file and being reviewed by the Department of Health – this organization provides most of the funding for the Adolescent Health Care Communication Project (AHCCP) and has asked the program to start curriculum development before the end of FY2012.

Challenges: The challenges the interns faced most was

  • Deciding what teaching techniques work both with teens and health care professionals
  • Deciding the format to use
  • Deciding if we wanted to use certain wording
  • The length and materials needed for each section in the training
  • What learning model to use
  • The literature Review (however, most literature reviews need revision)
  • Expected date of completion

Success: How we overcame each barrier

  • The techniques we agreed on using were, active group discussion, role-plays, brainstorming, agree and disagree, myth and facts, and hands on activity. Based on certain evidence-based practices that have used these techniques have said that they work best with any populace.
  • We used a format that transitions easily from section to the next
  • The wording we used was between 10th-12th grade level
  • The curriculum was designed used

Currently, the curriculum is in revisions and the evaluations as well. The new incoming interns will continue to work with the program and revise the curriculum as requested by the DOH. Below you can view some of the literature review and the current Front-Line Training Curriculum.

Reaction Blog: The Last Summer Leadership Institute Training for TORCH

This week was the last day of the Leadership Training Institute for the TORCH teens this summer. The kids are going on a break, the interns are leaving, and the directors are going on vacation right before the fall starts and the pandemonium of the peer education programs start for the coming semester. I seem to have been writing most of blog posts about the teens, but I have really enjoyed their company and learning from them has also been very valuable to me. Not only have I added this experience to my resume, but I have continued to learn more about other pregnancy prevention and youth development programs and how they work.

The TORCH program is very similar to the program I am currently working with. The Urban Health Plan, Inc. pregnancy prevention program is also a dual program for teens where youth development and education is incorporated into a clinical component of adolescent care. Unlike the TORCH program, the Urban Health Plan, Inc offers comprehensive and specialty adolescent care. That truly is the only difference between programs, however, the TORCH program is more peer lead and the teens have more control of what they teach. The Urban Health Plan, Inc. program is run by educators and mostly trained staff. We do have a peer education program, but they are not as widely used as the TORCH peer education program. But both programs have seemingly integral components that work well together when implemented.

For the last training session, the teens were able to actively engage in a jeopardy game about the recent health care reform changes made by President Obama. We focused on primary issues surrounding the debate – we focused on the changes surrounding women, children, and the elderly, Medicaid and Medicare, preventative measures, and other random facts about the “Obama Care” laws. What was interesting to note is that during the initial stages of research when we were preparing the questions for the game, many of the interns didn’t know about many of the changes that had recently taken effect. We received the same reaction from the teens as well- many of them didn’t even know what “Obama Care” was.

The teens seemed to enjoy the activity and had taken home with them some knowledge of the new health care reform act. Hopefully, we will continue to work with the teens later on.

Want to learn more about TORCH? Watch the YouTube video below!

Reaction Blog: The Book of Choices

NARAL Pro-Choice New York has various set of projects that they are currently working on and TORCH has been of the more active projects that have continued to make a great impact. NARAL continues to produce projects and activities surrounding reproductive health rights. The Book of Choices is an initiative that provides accurate information for teens that are facing unplanned pregnancies. The book provides information on:

  • Where to get an abortion
  • what you need to know before getting an abortion
  • resources for women choosing to continue their pregnancy.
  • provides information on preventing pregnancy, including different contraceptive methods.

Source: NARAL

This book serves as a resource and an outlet to accessing correct information that easy to read and understand. Teens can access this book online or they can make their way up to 33rd street and park ave and ask for an actual book. All the information is updated frequently and is reviewed to assure that the information is accurate. The Book of Choices is a great resource and many community-based organizations use this as means of referring their patients or teens to needed services that are not offered through their own programs. I believe this is a great tool that can be empowering, informative, and inspiring.

Professional Skills at NARAL- Learning From the TORCH Teens

Interning at NARAL has been quite an experience and having the opportunity to continue to work with teens is even better. The TORCH Peer Educators are a wonderful and versatile group on young individuals. Aside from the daily work at NARAL, they are a unique group of teens that love life, teaching, and being young. I have extensive background in youth development and youth education, but working with the TORCH teens have allowed me to acquire a new, and useful set of professional skills.

Learning to be open-minded and honest are skills that not every employer looks for in a resume or  an interview. However, these are skills that are required when working with youth and this is what I learned from working with TORCH for the last 4 weeks. When topics about sexual and reproductive health and medical care come up, teens have a lot to say. It can be easily interpreted that teens are rambunctious and blurt certain things out that are either confusing or just plain crazy. However, teens do have the right to speak their minds nevertheless, tell you how they want they want to be treated by their doctors. Being open-minded and allowing new ideas to circulate in your understanding of the teens nature is critical in working with them. Unknowingly, we judge and criticize teens for being this aggressive, but it is who they are. What we can do as adults, is simply be aware and have open-minds when working with teens. Without passing judgment, we as adults, should always support the ideas and thoughts of teens. Now, these thoughts must be positive thoughts and ideas that foster positive youth development – not ideas or thought that promote the opposite. This is away that teens can relate to you – even as an adult- you have the ability to become one with them, while still allowing mutual respect between the teacher and the student.

Learning to be honest and open with teens, is a very useful tool. It can allow you to be honest and open with other individuals you might be working with. When teens are given the chance to change, and by that I mean their behavior and decisions, teens are self-promoting and creating a brighter future for themselves. However, this can not be possible, if youth providers do not have open-minds and open-hearts to also learn from teens, but teach them as well.

TORCH Summer Leadership Training Institute

This summer, my intern duties have also asked that I put my “youth-loving” skills to good use. The Teens Outreach Reproductive CHallenge (TORCH) program is composed of strong, young, peer educators, that are trained in everything that has to do with sexual and … Continue reading

Bronx Teens Connection Launches New Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

New research has found that teen pregnancy is at its lowest in more than 10 years. However, teen pregnancy still continues to be a public health issue in that the United States has the highest rates of teen pregnancy in comparison to other industrialized countries. Here in the South Bronx, there have been many local collaboratives that have been established to help address the issue of teen pregnancy in the community. Most recently a strategically combined initiative of various community-based organizations, “The Bronx Teen Connection” has been established a coalition to collectively address the issue of teen pregnancy on a larger, community-wide intervention.

Pregnancy rates for 15-to19-year-olds in the South Bronx decreased from 153.4 per 1,000 females in 2002 to 118.3 per 1,000 females in 2009, a decline of 23%, more than the overall city decline of 11% (Teen Pregnancy in New York City: 2000-2009. New York, NY: New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 2011).
Source: The New York City Department of Health

The Bronx Teen Connection works primarily in the communities of the South Bronx; Hunts Point, Morrisonia, Longwood, and the South Bronx. Agencies that participate in this collective initiative include, Planned Parenthood, Children’s Aids Society, Urban Health Plan, Inc. & School-Based Health Centers, and Community Health Care Network among other grantees.

This program is also funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with the federal Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health (OASH) Office of Adolescent Health, as part of the President’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (NYCDOH,  2012). 

This month the coalition launched a new ad campaign to prevent teen pregnancy as part of their 5-year grant deliverables. The new ads encourage teens in the South Bronx to use both condoms and contraception together to help reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancies and HIV/AIDS transmission. From theses ads teens can see that using both these methods can provide optimal sexual health in that the chances of an unplanned pregnancy occurring is becomes greatly slim when both forms are used.

New Ad Campaign by the New York City Department of Health in conjunction with the Bronx Teen Connection at a bus stop on Southern Blvd.

An article was also releases in the Metro newspaper on the new ad campaigns highlighting the intentions of these ads and providing a framework for the new initiative and what the collaborative aims at providing. Metro writes, “The campaign is part of the city’s efforts to ensure that all teens have the information, skills and resources to make healthy decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.”

Even though these ads provide teen-friendly messages about safe sex practices, some might still be in objection to this new initiative. Many say that these ads promote sexual promiscuity and actually increase the onset of sexual activity. According to a blog post by Michael Benjamin, these ads are “further sexualizing our youth and encouraging sexual promiscuity among Hispanic and Blacks.” Not only are these ads promoting sexual activity, he also claims that these ads are “misinforming teens” by saying that “…condoms and birth control together  will prevent HIV, other STDs and pregnancy. Birth control does not prevent HIV/STD transmission.”

Once again, as he also states in his blog, we have opposition from people who do not know what is to be a teen living in the South Bronx. Sorry to burst your bubble of critiscm here Mr. Benjamin, but teens are having sex whether we promote it or not. The reality is, teenagers are experimental creatures and sex cannot be put into the same categories as drug or alcohol addiction because it is apart of life. Sex is an intimate act of expression and what should be most concerning is that teens are educated, aware, full of knowledge, and can make healthy decisions on their own.

It is obvious, even to a teen, that birth control does not in fact prevent the transmission of STD/HIV. However, this ad does not blatantly say that birth control prevents transmission. Birth control is used as a back-up method when condoms fail to provide pregnancy prevention.

As an educator, I work with teens 40hours a week in the South Bronx. I know what it is to live an unplanned teen pregnancy, abortion, and the confusion of choosing the right birth control. I would have benefitted from information like this if they had existed years ago. These teens need more education, support, youth development, and creativity to stir positive development in their lives. They do not need conservative creeps such as yourself constructing barriers of uninformed and misguided politics.

I support this movement and those similar to this that are yet to come…