April 26, 2007
Contact: Kaylyn Kendall Dines
Phone: (973) 972-3000
350 High School Students to Attend UMDNJ’s Teen Forum Friday
NEWARK — AJ Calloway, correspondent of the entertainment television show Extra and a former co-host of BET’s music video countdown show 106 and Park, will serve as host of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey’s 3rd Annual Teen Forum for appro ximately 350 high school students from the Greater Newark area. The forum will be held on Fri., April 27, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the Robert Treat Hotel, 50 Park Place in Newark.
Created by health professionals at the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine (DAYAM) at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, this forum is a health education and personal development conference. It allows teenagers to openly discuss challenges, triumphs and issues related to the consequences of their decision making.
Panel discussions, a keynote address, workshops, videos and a theatrical presentation will focus on increasing awareness concerning the risks associated with contracting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. Health educators and community leaders will help youth understand the connection between personal choices and consequences.
“This forum was designed for the high school students who live in the communities that surround the New Jersey Medical School,” said Dr. Paulette Stanford, associate director in the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine of the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School. “The staff within the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at New Jersey Medical School is committed to providing a supportive, educational environment where the young people can talk about the social issues they face without fear of being judged by adults. We also want the young people to be aware of local health care resources and services.”
A keynote address will be delivered by Hydeia Broadbent, a 23-year-old woman who was born HIV-positive. She will speak to the high school students who are enrolled in the Newark Public Schools, East Orange Campus High School, Orange Middle School, St. James Preparatory School, and Covenant House New Jersey.
While some breakout sessions will focus on gender and ethnicity, others will concentrate on: techniques to prevent anger management; conflict resolution; gang violence prevention; and nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit.
A theatrical skit will be presented by teenagers who are part of UMDNJ’s POWER initiative. The POWER (Peer Outreach Workers Educating Risk Takers) initiative, one of the DAYAM programs at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, showcases teenagers in dramatic presentations about real life situations that impact their lives.
“Youth from the POWER program use skits to convey messages that challenge their peers to make wise choices concerning health and wellness,” said Bernita Waller, administrator in the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine of the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School. “The skit that will be performed during our 3rd Annual DAYAM Teen Forum is called, “Understanding that Endings have Beginnings. We want young people to think and realize every action has a reaction. What happens one time can be life-changing.”
According to the Association for Children of New Jersey Kids Count, Essex County youth represent nine percent of all juvenile arrests and 11 percent of all juvenile incarcerations statewide. This county leads the state with a 12 percent teenage death rate. Six percent of all HIV/AIDS cases reported are adolescents and nine percent of all births are to teen mothers.
To address these issues, a panel presentation will feature Dr. Robert Johnson, interim dean of the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School who specializes in pediatrics, adolescent medicine, and psychiatry; representatives from the Essex Federal Gang Suppression Network; a heath professional who discuss HIV Rapid Testing and screenings.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey is the nation’s largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,700 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and a school of public health on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits at UMDNJ facilities and faculty practices at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a statewide mental health and addiction services network.