CHPIR continues to partner with the Craven County Health Department (CCHD) in New Bern, NC to offer the Teen Outreach Project (TOP). In 2012, Genevieve Ankeny Hunter (GV), a CHPIR project coordinator, Tova Hairston, a native of Craven County, successfully led a program that reached over one hundred youth, ages 11-17, in Craven County. The TOP curriculum not only provided these youth with an essential education on teen pregnancy and HIV/STD transmission, it also promoted essential abilities to reduce future risk behavior by focusing on three important tenants in youth development: a sense of purpose, life skills and healthy behaviors.
CHPIR’s first and only project serving adolescents in North Carolina, the Teen Outreach Program of Craven County, had a tremendous year of growth. Since February of 2012, TOP® of Craven County has served over 200 youth, ages 11-17. Sites grew almost to capacity in year 2 of the grant and in year 3 (2013-2014), they are at full capacity at three sites. TOP® has also been approved to host a pilot TOP® at a new site, adjacent to a housing project in New Bern, NC. This is a high-risk area of the city, where previous after-school programs were maintained for many years, but recently were not funded. This is a wonderful opportunity to expand the program in an underserved area.
TOP® is funded by the Women’s Health Branch, which sponsors the program under the name, PREPare for Success or PREP. PREP, is known nationally as the personal responsibility education program and is designed to educate adolescents on both abstinence and contraception to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. It also promotes adulthood preparation subjects such as, healthy relationships and parent-child communication.
TOP®, however, offers much more than the basics of teen pregnancy prevention. TOP® is youth-oriented and is focused on three important tenets of youth development: sense of purpose, life skills and healthy behaviors. For youth, this translates to a regular meeting place where they feel they have a voice. It is a safe place where youth have said they can ask questions “openly and honestly.” Furthermore, youth trust that they will get an honest and thoughtful answer back.
Learning through service or Community Service Learning is also an integral part of TOP®. This past year participants chose varied service projects including: a reading and art intervention with preschoolers, a letter writing and care package campaign for deployed military and a pennies for pets project for a local animal shelter. TOP® youth and staff thoroughly enjoyed their service work.
TOP® hosted many enriching trips in 2012-2013, including a college tour over spring break to six North Carolina colleges and universities, including two Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The end of year trip to Ft. Macon State Park and Atlantic Beach was a huge highlight for many participants who have never been to the regional landmark and do not often get a day at the beach.
TOP® staff continues its collaborative efforts and strong partnerships with many organizations and community members in Craven County. Community partners include: Craven County Health Department, City of New Bern/Parks and Recreation, Craven County Schools, Craven County Department of Social Services and St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church. All of these partners offer in-kind contributions, including office space and TOP® after-school meeting space.
In the summer of 2013, Genevieve and Tova attended a week long intensive training. The Training Institute for Sexual Health Educators or TISHE, is a nationally known training for sexuality educators, founded by Rutgers University and sponsored the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina. It featured plenaries on topics including: learner diversity, creating a safe learning environment, exploring values, and broadening understanding of sexuality and sexuality education. It also featured daily small-group work with other professionals to enhance facilitation and training skills. It was the most comprehensive and effective training our TOP® staff has attended thus far.
Genevieve continued her work with the Southern Reach-AIDS United project working in collaboration with the Duke Legal AIDS Assistance Project. She continues to offer curriculum development and training to legal and medical staff serving people living with HIV/AIDS throughout North Carolina. The aim of this project is to reduce discrimination and breaches of confidentiality in legal and emergency room settings. In the spring of 2013, Genevieve trained a physician and his entire practice on HIV and confidentiality, after a Department of Justice lawsuit found the practice liable for discriminatory practices. In addition, this past summer, Genevieve and Carolyn McAllaster, Duke Professor of Law, trained two groups of Duke University Medical Center internal medicine and emergency department medicine residents in working to maintain confidentiality of patients living with HIV/AIDS.