April 23, 2010 – In response to the high number of births and sexually transmitted infections (STI’s), Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and Superintendent Dr. Alan J. Ingram commissioned an advisory board to develop recommendations that would lead to a response aimed at decreasing the rates of teen pregnancy and STI’s.
The convening chairs appointed are Dr. Ann Southworth from the Springfield Public Schools; Sarah Perez-McAdoo, M.D., OB/GYN at Baystate Medical Center and Director of the Youth Empowerment Adolescent Health (YEAH) Network; Helen Caulton-Harris, Director of the Division of Health and Human Services for the City of Springfield and Juan Gerena.
The Committee adopted the name Springfield Adolescent Sexual Health Advisory (S.A.S.H.A.) and adopted a mission to build community capacity and engage parents, teens and policymakers in preventing unintended teen pregnancy and STI’s.
Mayor Sarno and Superintendent Alan J. Ingram, S.A.S.H.A. in conjunction with the Springfield Department of Health and Human Services will hold a luncheon on Tuesday, April 27, 2010, from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., at the Basketball Hall of Fame to initiate a call to action and to celebrate the successes of the advisory committee.
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno stated that “the City has been committed to this ongoing endeavor in response to the City’s high teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection rates that disproportionately impact Springfield youth.” “I’m very appreciative of the time commitment made by the members of the S.A.S.H.A. and am please with the progress that has been made since this initiative’s inception and with the support of Health Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris and school superintendent Dr. Alan J. Ingram,” Sarno said.
School Superintendent Dr. Alan J. Ingram commends the work of the S.A.S.H.A., and stated that he “recognizes this is a city-wide issue that is being addressed through a collaborative community partnership aimed at helping our City’s school students.” “The appropriate steps are being taken to help our students become responsible citizens as well as greater achievers, because healthy kids are betters students,” said Ingram.
One major success is the collaboration between S.A.S.H.A. and the Springfield School Department that resulted in the implementation of the F.L.A.S.H. curriculum in the Public School System. In addition, S.A.S.H.A. has broken its work into four sub committees; Business, Chaired by Hector Toledo; Schools, Chaired by Ann Southworth; Community at Large, Chaired by Juan Gerena and Medical/Public Health Chaired by Sarah Perez-McAdoo, M.D., and Helen Caulton-Harris.
The State Department of Public Health (DPH) will also provide statistical information on the recently released Massachusetts Teen Birth Data and the Massachusetts Teen Pregnancy Alliance will present information to support the theme of the Education, Economics and Opportunity.