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POWER for Bliss Towers

Graduating Ceremony Held for Hudson Women Completing Peer Educator Training

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Blue Carreker, 518-434-5678


Published: 12.16.11| Updated: 12.16.11

At a graduation ceremony held at Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood's Hudson health center on Thursday morning, December 15, 2011, four Hudson residents received certificates for completing training as adult peer outreach assistants for the Women's Health Project, a community-based initiative of the Center for Elimination of Minority Health Disparities at the University at Albany. Tiffany Garriga, Maria Hansberry, Sylvia Jones and Arylee Ojumu are now on the front lines of an initiative to encourage low income women of color in Hudson, New York to take positive steps toward improving their own health-and particularly their reproductive health.

The women were hired by the Women's Health Project, whose Hudson field office is in the Bliss Towers housing complex, in the early fall. Their graduation marks the end of a 10 week training program provided by Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood education and patient services staff. The training program provided each participant with basic knowledge in health topics such as the importance of annual "well woman" GYN exams (including breast and cervical cancer screenings), reproductive anatomy, birth control, sexually transmitted infections, and safer sex. Participants learned about outreach skills and techniques, from how to approach people in a non-intrusive way to how to respond to those who may react negatively. They also learned specifics about where women can go in the local community for affordable health care services, and options for insurance coverage.

Beginning about half way through the training, the women began to put their education into practice by staffing information tables in the lobby of Bliss Towers on a weekly basis. According to Jeanette Johnson of the Women's Health Project, the training program has been a huge success. "The women are fully committed," said Johnson. "Each week, they became more comfortable in their role and more confident about the information they can provide to others."

At a recent training, Arylee Ojumu said she became involved because she wants to "help the young people and the old. If they need someone to talk to, I can find someone for them and guide them."

According to Rob Curry, Sr. Vice President for External Affairs at UHPP, the women have shown a wonderful enthusiasm for the material and a commitment to finding ways to share this information with the residents of Bliss Towers. "They understand the daily challenges faced by their friends and neighbors and are proud to be able to offer them useful and sometimes critical information about health topics and available health services. They are also helping us," said Curry, "to understand how we can better serve this community."

In the early weeks of the training, the participants came up with a name for their peer educator group that portrays how they feel about their new roles and responsibilities. They call themselves the POWER team: Peer Outreach Women Educated on Reproductive Health.

The Women's Health Project is directed by Dr. Annis Golden of the University at Albany and made possible by a grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood is a community-based non-profit organization providing advocacy, education and reproductive health care services in the capital region since 1934. In 2010, the agency provided health care services to over 11,000 men, women and youth who made over 23,000 visits to our health centers located in Albany, Troy and Hudson. UHPP community educators also provided 366 programs to 4,805 participants.

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