Hundreds of Rochester children will get help with social-emotional development, sex education, and more, thanks to a $1.375 million grant from the New York State Department of Health.
The five-year grant will fund a new "sexual risk avoidance education" program.
Children from the ages of 10 to 13 will learn about anatomy, sexually transmitted diseases, and teen pregnancy.
"It's been our experience that the more opportunities to debunk myths, in particular with youth, around sexual activity and sexual health, the better we have seen results in changing behavior," said Daniel Lyman-Torres, the city's commissioner of recreation and youth services.
But the program will extend beyond that to include a wide variety of activities and lessons. Participants will be asked to think about what they want their future to look like. Conversations will focus on what to do -- and not do -- to realize those dreams.
"To build up their skills and abilities with being able to navigate and negotiate with their peers as they are on this journey," Lyman-Torres said, "because that's a big piece of that for young people. How do you interact with peers who might be giving you information that's not true or that might be trying to push you in a different direction?"
The program will operate in city R-Centers and other community-based settings. Participants will also be offered activities like yoga, cooking, and crafts and receive mentorship, help with homework, and healthy meals and snacks.
Lyman-Torres said they hope to reach 300 youths each year through the program.