Our dear friends Karolyn and Bruce Gould shared a legacy of significant contributions to improving the lives of others. Karolyn's long and distinguished career was noteworthy for her vision and commitment to youth, especially youth in foster care transitioning to adulthood. She held major positions in public and private agencies including the South Bronx Human Development Organization and the Independent Living Resource Center at the Hunter College School of Social Work. An innovative policy-maker and judge, Bruce was a relentless advocate dedicated to a life of public service, particularly for improving and safeguarding the housing of New Yorkers.
In remembrance of Karolyn and Bruce, the Gould family has directed donations to the Karolyn & Bruce Gould Literacy Fund at Inwood House. The funds will be used to enhance availability of reading materials for young mothers and their children and for programming to support and promote family literacy and reading as a foundation for healthy family life. If you wish to make a donation in honor of Karolyn and Bruce, please click below.
To donate by phone or for more information please call April Griswold at (212)861-4400 x8064
Respect and Protect Our Youth with Comprehensive Sex Education in School by Linda Lausell Bryant
In 2012, Mayor Bloomberg’s mandate to provide comprehensive sex education is scheduled to take effect in New York City’s public middle and high schools. As the executive director of Inwood House, which specializes in teen pregnancy prevention and supportive services for pregnant and parenting teens, and as one of the mayor’s appointees to the Panel for Educational Policy, I support this addition to our youth’s education.
I also understand that while the majority of parents welcome sex education for their child, others are apprehensive. I would like to address the concerns and critiques that have surfaced since the mandate’s announcement.
One major concern is that teaching sex education in schools undermines values that parents teach at home. Critics of the mandate point to the “risk cards” used by the Reducing the Risk curriculum which compare the relative risks of sexual practices. They also cite homework assignments that require students to locate sexual health resources in their neighborhoods.
It’s important to keep in mind that nearly half the DOE-recommended curriculum lessons for high school students are devoted to abstinence, refusal techniques, delaying tactics, and ways to avoid high-risk situations. These teach our teens how to think critically about making healthy decisions. The risk cards and sexual health resource assignments arm them with medically accurate information that informs those decisions. It is well documented that having information about and access to contraception does not advance sexual activity. Knowing where to go for sexual health resources is a skill and safety measure that will protect them throughout their lives.
And early detection of potentially fatal sexually transmitted infections and HIV is critical for effective treatment and reducing transmission. A report just issued by New York University’s Silver School of Social Work on adolescent sexual health disparities for Bronx youth cites limited access to reproductive health services among adolescents as a key factor in their poor sexual health outcomes.
Keeping youth ignorant cannot be our strategy for keeping them out of trouble. And we would be naive to think that they aren’t learning about sex from other, less credible sources, such as TV, Facebook, YouTube, and cell phones. There is a need for objective, medically accurate information to be provided, and the opportunity for teens to reflect and problem-solve about that information. The logical question that follows is “who should provide it?” Is it the role and responsibility of families or schools?
I submit that both have a responsibility. When over 8,000 teenagers give birth to babies each year in New York City and statistics tell us that most teen mothers and their children have outcomes that limit their chances for successful, healthy lives, then schools, as a social institution, have an obligation to act. Does that undermine the responsibility of parents to act? Not at all. Parents have the largest responsibility, but when we see futures being derailed by risky sexual activity and premature parenting, then it is appropriate for multiple social institutions to respond.
Sexual development is an inevitable part of adolescent growth and human development. Children will grow into teens with new bodies that are capable of sexual behavior and reproduction. But teenage pregnancy is not inevitable. Reducing the number of teen pregnancies and youth with sexually transmitted illnesses and HIV is a responsibility of all of us.
Should parents be forced to have their children participate in comprehensive sex education if they believe it undermines their values? No. That’s why they can opt their child out. It is my opinion that we should not aspire to teach sex education without values. Its goal should be to teach young people that engaging in sexual behavior is complex and requires critical thinking about their health, values, identity, spiritual beliefs, culture, and goals for the future.
A public institution should share in the responsibility of educating its citizenry, particularly when there’s substantial evidence that their health and well-being are being compromised. The more than 8,000 babies born to NYC teen girls each year present serious public health and social welfare problems. And, as reported in the Silver School study, New York City’s HIV and STI rates among youth are significantly higher than the nation’s in four out of five boroughs.
Finally, I would like to address the fear that when we simultaneously teach abstinence and risk reduction, we are confusing youth through mixed messages. Does teaching teens about contraception imply that we have no faith in their ability to control their behavior and avoid sex?
I believe that we must respect the intelligence and integrity of our youth to make healthy decisions about sex when they have accurate information at their disposal. Moreover, it is our responsibility as adults and role models to communicate our values and our belief in their ability to make sound choices. If we trust that they are capable of doing so, why should we feel compelled to withhold critical information, an essential component to making any sound decision? They need not be ignorant to keep their innocence.
In addition to her role as Inwood House Executive Director, Ms. Lausell Bryant is a Mayoral appointee of the NYC Panel on Education Policy and parent of a public school student.
Watch our Executive Director, Linda Lausell Bryant, talk about the work of Inwood House in an interview with CUNY TV's One To One with Sheryl McCarthy
In the Summer of 2011 Inwood House went live in Times Square! Watch our Billboard Ad
Special thanks to those who made this possible: the Inwood House Trustees, Corporate Advisory Board, Sheppard Mullin, Susan Credle, Anthony Aviles, and Neutron Media Thank you for helping us support our teens and young families!
Click below to see Linda Lausell Bryant discuss Inwood House on ABC’s news program Tiempo!
High Water Women Open Door to Computer Literacy for Young Moms
High Water Women (HWW) Foundation volunteers have added computer literacy to their year-round support of Inwood House pregnant teens and young moms. In June they launched a series of workshops at the Teen Family Learning Center to help our Residents to develop computer skills. The on-site Computer Lab is dedicated to the High Water Women for their generous support of the Teen Family Learning Center renovation. Computer literacy is a core component of the Inwood House Academy curriculum, which takes a "two generation approach" to promoting academic, computer, financial, and parenting literacy. On June 21st, volunteers worked with Residents on concrete skills and how to apply them to meet daily needs and long-term goals: setting up a Google email account, working in Excel, managing your bank account, and creating a resume. Enthusiastic volunteers provided one-on-one assistance to meet the Residents' different skill levels and interests. These workshops will make it possible for our pregnant and parenting teens to adopt the internet as a family resource, gain school and workplace skills, and more easily take advantage of Classroom Inc, an exciting interactive computer-based "virtual workplace" program Inwood House offers. Our thanks to Valerie Worthy and April McKenzie-Griswold from Inwood House and Maddy Ramos and Susan Valickas from HWW for leading this effort as well as their fellow volunteers Maria Piccolino, Sarah Snyder, Jamie Fry, and Aubrey Cook for making the computer workshop kick-off such a great success.
Meet the 2011 Teen Choice Peer Educators
Teen Choice Peer Educators are working to stem the tide of teen pregnancy and the AIDS epidemic in their communities. Teen Choice equips more than 3,000 New York City and New Jersey public middle and high school students to take responsibility for their actions through comprehensive reproductive health education, values clarification, leadership training, and improved communication with their parents. The youth come from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School, New Day Academy, Bedford-Stuyvesant Preparatory H.S. and Morrisania / MS 212.
P.R.I.M.E Leaders participate in the First Annual Get Fit Event!
On June 8, we held the first Annual Get Fit Event at MS 145/328 in the Bronx. Twenty two students from the Inwood House P.R.I.M.E. Leaders afterschool program joined in this event, sponsored by Power Bar and Brooks. Our Junior Advisory Council member Maurelhena Walles a world and nationally ranked Master Track and Field athlete facilitated the event. Ms. Walles volunteers her time at Inwood House and sporting events that promote health and wellness for youth throughout New York City.
The P.R.I.M.E Leaders Program (Program for Resourceful, Innovative, Motivated & Empowered) helps more than 500 Bronx youth become civically responsible, career-focused and health conscious leaders. The focus of the event was to engage youths in team building fitness activities. Ms. Walles emphasized the importance of physical fitness, staying hydrated and healthy during physical activities and communicating and working together to achieve personal victories during the activities. The students, working in teams, had to carefully listen to Ms. Walles' instructions and develop strategies that would allow their teams to complete the obstacle courses as efficiently as possible.
In the end, everyone was a winner. Each student was given a Brooks backpack along with water bottles from Power Bar and 12 lucky students won gift certificates for sneakers from Brooks. We want to thank our sponsors, Power Bar and Brooks and Junior Advisory Council member Maurelhena Walles for initiating this first Annual Get Fit Event.
On Friday, January 22, executives and guests of Inwood House visited
the New York Stock Exchange to commemorate our 180th birthday. In
honor of the occasion, Executive Director Linda Lausell Bryant,
rang the NYSE Closing Bell joined by 17-year old Inwood House resident
Meagan Triolo and her two-year old daughter, Mayreny, as well as
teens from our Teen Choice program, Inwood House Trustees, and Corporate
Advisory Board members including representatives from Abadi & Co.,
Cisco Systems, Dover Corporation, Mayer Brown LLP, Mogavero Lee
& Co., and Morrison and Foerster.
The NYSE bell ringings are among the most widely watched daily
news events, viewed by millions of people around the world. The
event was broadcast live on CNBC and Fox Business News. To see Linda
Lausell Bryant, Meagan and her daughter Mayreny, our teens, and
supporters of Inwood House as they rang the Closing Bell, please
visit this link: http://www.nyse.com/events/Cal_1259061213272.html
We're pleased to share this inspirational story, featured on NBC's
website "the Grio," about an Inwood House teen who is
taking charge of her life.
* * *
Organization Aids Pregnant Teens with No Place to Go
By Kumasi Aaron
Stephanie Romero and her infant daughter Serenity are all smiles
today, but just a year ago, things were drastically different.
"I was living with a foster mother and it was my third foster
home since I was put back in care so it was tough," said 18-year-old
Stephanie's foster mother could no longer support her, then Stephanie
found out she was pregnant. "I had no idea what I was going
to do, I kept thinking I have to find a job, I'm going to have to
buy myself food clothes bottles I had no idea. I was so scared because
I was on my own."
But she wasn't on her own for long. Stephanie found Inwood House,
an organization that has provided teen mothers in New York City
with counseling, health and parenting classes since 1830. Stephanie
moved into Inwood's residency house, and received around the clock
care until her daughter was born.
Each year nearly 200 teens who have been in foster care, homeless
or in the juvenile justice system call Inwood House home, finding
a safe haven when they have no where else to turn.
With nearly 8,500 teen births a year in New York City, programs
like the Inwood House are in high demand, so teens are interviewed
to identify those most in need. According to the national campaign
to prevent teen pregnancy, 70% of teen mothers never complete high
school and 80% rely on public assistance. So Inwood House takes
a holistic approach, providing study groups, job training, and personal
development groups, in addition to maternal care.
"Many of our young people are coming from backgrounds where
they've had histories of family violence there's been poverty in
their family there's been abuse, so they may not have had the best
start in life, but that doesn't have to limit how far they can go,"
said Linda Bryant, Inwood House Executive Director.
And Stephanie's planning to go far. She's starts college next spring,
and is looking forward to what's ahead.
On Friday, May 8th, Inwood House celebrated an important milestone
in our 179 year history: the Grand Opening of the Teen Family Learning
Center. Unique in all of New York City, the Center provides residential
care for up to 32 homeless pregnant teens or pregnant teens in foster
care, while also providing comprehensive family support services
to parenting teens.
The day kicked off with a morning press conference and ribbon cutting
ceremony attended by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Manhattan
Borough President Scott Stringer, Assembly Member Micah Kellner,
City Council Member Jessica Lappin, City Council Member David Weprin,
Commissioner Gladys Carrion, Commissioner Jeanne Mullgrav, other
key supporters, and Senior Staff. During a midday Open House, volunteers
and community partners joined us for lunch, cake, and the uplifting
presentation of “vision boards” by current and past Inwood House
Finally, we celebrated this momentous success during a sunset cocktail
party on our sixth floor terrace with Board Members, Corporate Advisory
Board Members, and other friends of Inwood House. As we begin this
new chapter in our history, we are grateful for the generosity,
dedication, and collaboration of all our partners who made our vision
If you would like to take a tour of the TFLC Please contact April Griswold at 646-895-8064 email@example.com to schedule a tour.
Take a Virtual Tour of Inwood House's
Newly Renovated 82nd Street Maternity Residence
Now open, Inwood House's Teen Family Learning Center is designed
to provide a more therapeutic environment that is configured to
support a variety intensive services for our formerly homeless clients
and youth from foster care.
Capable of housing up to 32 pregnant teens at a time, the three
residence floors have been reconfigured to provide space for increased
group and individual mental health counseling. In addition, the
second floor contains a new outdoor terrace area that will provide
the residence its first outdoor space for girls to exercise, read,
relax, and socialize together and with family members without having
to leave the building.
With exciting features such as dedicated classroom space, a high-tech
computer lab, child care space, and a teaching kitchen, the new
Family Learning Center provides a broader, deepercontinuum of care
for our pregnant and parenting teens and their children. The co-location
of parenting and educational programs and the Maternity Residence
facilitates ready access to multiple services for our clients, and
allows them to develop key relationships with staff members prior
to delivery. After having their babies, our young families will
be able to come back and use the Family Learning Center to take
advantage of our innovative education and life-skills development