Thanks to a generous anonymous gift, as well as several large donations from members of the Central Virginia community, the University of Virginia Children’s Hospital Teen Health Center is to establish the Adolescent Advocacy and Outreach Program (AAOP). The program’s goal is to address several issues surrounding teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and suicide, among others. Program coordinators plan to address these issues by supporting evidence-based approaches to reducing these threats to teen health.
“Most adolescent health problems are directly related to high-risk behaviors,” says Dyan Aretakis, family nurse practitioner and project director of the Teen Health Center. “This kind of community based health education can play a critical and significant role in assuring the health and well-being of our teens.”
The AAOP will be coordinated by Mary Sullivan, M.Ed. As full-time coordinator of AAOP, Sullivan will bring groups of local parents, adolescent providers, and policy-makers together with leaders in the field of adolescent health and education. Together they will review current research regarding effective health promotion initiatives, and will work to institute necessary changes in local programs and policy.
Sullivan previously served as coordinator of the Teen Health Center’s Peer Health and Wellness Educators’ program and currently serves as the Charlottesville/ Albemarle teen pregnancy and STD prevention coordinator. In addition, she recently was named “Citizen of the Year” by the Society of Adolescent Medicine’s Virginias/Carolinas Regional Chapter.
For more information about the program or to cover this as a news story, please call the UVa Health System Public Relations office at (434) 243-2734.