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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


3 new programs aid teens in need

The Southwest Institute for Research on Women at the UA is forming three pilot programs to help adolescents in need in southern Arizona — iTeam, Recover2gether and Step Forward.

The iTeam program specifically targets gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual young adults between 15 and 23 years old.

“”iTeam is looking at trying to provide a lot of different services for GLTB adolescents and young adults in the community,”” said Sally Stevens, director of the Southwest Institute for Research on Women and iTeam lead investigator. “”Services like housing, case management, life skills, substance abuse and mental health and HIV prevention and testing.””

The program will help participants find employment and health care and make sure they have a staff available to help them get what they need.

Wingspan, a non-profit organization, will be doing the majority of the outreach for iTeam.

“”They have a network of people who are involved in the community and can help identify youth in need,”” Stevens said.

Individuals who are already participating will also recruit new participants via word of mouth.

UA students are welcome to participate if they meet the criteria.

“”The process really is to call or e-mail Wingspan, then the staff at Wingspan will ask different questions and see if this is a good fit with that individual,”” Stevens said. “”If not, we’ll refer them to other services that might be more appropriate.””

If a person needs housing or substance abuse or mental health treatment, or if they want to learn about HIV or gain life skills, they will be invited into the program.

The program is funded by a federal grant, and the UA and about 15 other schools were chosen from over 300 applications.

Enrollment for the program will begin in January, so that the organization can finalize the sub-contracts with contributing organizations.

Collaborators include Wingspan, CODAC Behavioral Health, Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation, Our Family and Open Inn, Stevens said.

The grant lasts five years, during which UA researchers will be constantly analyzing the evaluation process. After five years there will be a national evaluation component with the other participating organizations.

Recover2gether is a program that tests and analyzes the effectiveness of three different recovery programs for substance abuse in young adults; telephone check-ins, a recovery-oriented social networking site and family-based intervention.

“”We’re going to be recruiting kids from residential substance abuse treatments programs here in southern Arizona, organized by Arizona Children’s Association,”” said Bridget Ruiz, associate research professor at the UA’s Southwest Institute for Research on Women.

The team hopes to get 50 subjects, between 13 and 17 years old, who will participate in the yearlong program. After one year, participants will fill out an evaluation that will be compared to the other three sites, Illinois, Massachusetts and Oregon, Ruiz said.

Recover2gether is looking for volunteers who have an interest in providing telephone recovery check-ins with young people.

“”We’re going to be having, each week, volunteers contacting youth via telephone, seeing how things are going and if they need any resources, those kinds of things,”” Ruiz said.

The final program being introduced is Step Forward, to help adolescents who have a criminal history.

“”We’re teaching sexual health curriculum to adolescents, mostly to those involved in the criminal justice system,”” said Claudia Powell.

A probation officer will refer individuals between 12 and 17 years old to Step Forward.

“”It’s an eight session comprehensive curriculum that talks about anything from HIV and STI prevention to healthy relationships to puberty and adolescent development,”” Powell said.

Each of the three collaborating organizations, the UA, SAAF and CODAC Behavioral Health, will have one health educator to teach the participants.

This program will run for five years.

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