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Healthy Respect Media Release

New York Mayor and Schools Superintendent Support Abstinence Education Program

Peer Educators Honored at Parent Teen Event

Yonkers, New York (April 25, 2008) -- The Mayor of New York State's fourth largest city and the Superintendent of Schools came together last Wednesday to honor Healthy Respect Peer Educators who successfully completed twenty hours of intense training in preparation for their work with fellow student in promoting abstinence and other healthy choices. The peer educators focus on subjects such as communicating with parents, fostering healthy relationships,and countering harmful media messages regarding sexual activity and violence.

Yonkers Mayor Philip Amicone and Yonkers Public Schools Superintendent Bernard Pierorazio presented these same students with $500 scholarships toward higher education. The scholarships are funded by Healthy Respect through an abstinence education grant administered by the Abstinence Education Division of the Family Youth Services Bureau of the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Mayor Amicone, a long-time proponent of abstinence education, praised the Healthy Respect program and emphasized the impor-tance of promoting healthy choices.

He also spoke about the close links between teen sexual activity and other risky behaviors, including gang violence.

Earlier in the day he and Superintendent Pierorazio, along with the Police Commissioner Edmund Hartnett and other community leaders, released the city's Juvenile Crime Prevention Plan. The strategic action plan, said Mayor Amicone, "is the result of the hard work and efforts of representatives from our police department, public schools, city officials, service providers and other community advocates. It shows how we can come together to be proactive in preventing juvenile crime in our city."

Superintendent Pierorazio
spoke directly to the Healthy Respect Peer Educators, praised their achievements and made clear that they are raising goals and expectations for all students. He also pointed out that although many of the honorees come from undeserved neighborhoods in southwest Yonkers, "they find themselves as the first in their families to be accepted to our nation's best colleges and universities. They are the hope for our future, and an integral part of the Yonkers Renaissance. Their remarkable achievements are due, in no small measure, to the unique partnership that the Yonkers Public Schools have forged with the Healthy Respect program during the past three years through the federally-funded Community Based Abstinence Education Program."

Fern Eisgrub, Director of Curriculum Instruction and Assessment for the Yonkers Public Schools accepted the 2008 Healthy Respect Appreciation Award from John Margand, Esq., Healthy Respect's Chief Executive Officer.

"Director Eisgrub is someone who really cares for the children," noted Mr. Margand. "She is an educational professional who wants these children to succeed and does everything she can to make sure that they have a chance to do so. Her expertise has been indispensible in maximizing the positive impact of abstinence education resources within the school district."

The awards presentation launched the dynamic and interactive Healthy Respect Parent-Teen Event, part of an ongoing effort to foster parent-child communication about sex, while supporting parents in their role as the primary educators of their children in this vital area.

About 85 students and parents took part in the event, which featured high-energy presentations by popular abstinence speakers Rashida Jolley, a singer and former Miss District of Columbia, and Mark Tatum, who is music director of the rock band Challenge. Ms. Jolley spoke to the teen girls while Mr. Tatum addressed the teen boys.

Mr. Margand engaged parents separately in his presentation, "Talking to Your Teen About Sex." He cited studies demonstrating the impact of parents on the sexual behavior of their children. "Despite a common misperception that peers and the media are the strongest influences on young people," said Mr. Margand, "teens still look to their parents for ultimate guidance. It is mostly when parents fail to communicate their values and expectations that teens turn to peers and the media for answers," he added.

"We are deeply grateful to Mayor Amicone and to Superintendent Pierorazio for their support of the program and for recognizing its role in the Yonkers renaissance," said Mr. Margand. "The strong and growing participation by parents in the program gives us great hope for the next generation," he said.


About Healthy Respect:

The Healthy Respect curriculum for students in grades 7 through 12 is designed to guide young people in making good choices and set them on a safe course toward success. With age-appropriate lessons, it engenders healthy perspectives regarding the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, and promotes abstinence in preparation for marriage by illustrating the power and delicacy of the human reproductive system, while fostering attitudes of self-respect and self-control.

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