Philadelphia Program Developed by Young People Teaches Teens About Sexual HealthChildren's Hospital of Philadelphia has launched a new public awareness campaign that uses messages written and acted out by young people to convey information about sexually transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS and other health topics, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The program, called Teen Health Connections, was created last year to engage teens in making public service announcements about health issues that affect them. Once a month, 15 high school students in the Philadelphia area meet with a medical advisory team and a project coordinator to develop the PSAs, whose topics change about every six months. Teen Health Connections has produced 17 PSAs and two 30-minute specials on sexual health and cardiovascular health that have been aired on local television stations. The program has also developed a telephone hot line and a Web site to accompany the campaign.
The Inquirer reports that the program was developed to communicate sexual health information to teens who are "unimpressed by [the] preachy messages" of abstinence and sexual behavior made by adults. "[A]dults try to oversimplify things -- 'this is wrong and this is right,'" Ziva Cizman, one of the teens involved with the program, said, adding that messages promoting abstinence often do not "resonate with teenagers who are sexually active." Cizman said that the program aims to tell young people how to protect themselves against disease should they become sexually active. Bret Rudy, associate division chief of the Craig-Dalsimer Division of Adolescent Medicine at Children's Hospital, said that young people are more likely to listen to each other and the media about sex, adding, "We have teenagers who can provide great leadership to other teens" (Surendran, Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/15).