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Center Staff Attend Annual SHIFT NC Conference

The 2019 Annual Conference on Adolescent Sexual Health hosted by Sexual Health Initiatives For Teens of North Carolina (SHIFT NC) was held May 15 – 17 in Greensboro, North Carolina. This year’s theme was “Diving Below the Surface: Exploring the Depths of Adolescent Sexual Health.” Raisa Mathies, Reina Evans, and Michelle White (pictured above) represented the Center for Family and Community Engagement (CFACE) by hosting an exhibitor table where they informed attendees of our organization and the work we do across the state. Additionally, they were able to focus their discussions around our online trainings, specifically with regard to the revision of “Learning to Support, Include, and Empower Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans* and Questioning Youth in Substitute Care,” which is due to launch later this summer.

Here is what our wonderful staff members have to say about their experiences during the conference:

Raisa Mathies:

Raisa Mathies: “I have been supporting the CFACE team during the revision of our course that supports LGBTQ youth, so the Shift NC conference was a great opportunity for me to gain new perspectives and self-affirm that our course is important in helping to address the current needs of the LGBTQ youth population. As a co-founder of a mentorship initiative that provides reproductive and sexual information to the young girls in my home country, Liberia, I was excited for the opportunity to network with gender and sex educators, and to hear their perspectives on their work with young people. At the conference I enjoyed the interactive, culturally informed, and practical sessions. I also liked that we left every session knowing some of the best practices to address the various social issues, along with action steps to incorporate into our personal and professional lives. Equally exciting was the opportunity to tell conference attendees about the thrilling work of the Center. I especially enjoyed hearing health workers and social workers talk about how important our newly revised course will be for their practice.”

Michelle White: “It was great connecting with so many influential people from across our state and talk about sexual health topics that are impacting our communities. It was also meaningful being able to talk to community members about our upcoming training ‘Learning to Support, Include, and Empower Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans* and Questioning Youth in Substitute Care.’ I loved hearing about how people could use this training in their practice and about all the different organizations and people that would benefit from taking it. It was a great opportunity to work on the training, talk about the training, see sessions that supported what we discuss in our training, and hear from North Carolina professionals that this is a useful training that they are excited about.”

Reina Evans: “As part of the Teen Health Lab at NC State, and with support from the Center for Family and Community Engagement, I study adolescent sexual health and work with rural, North Carolina schools to implement health education programs. At the SHIFT NC conference I had the opportunity to hear the perspective of social workers, sex educators, and health department employees also dedicated to improving the sexual health of young people in North Carolina. This experience illustrated the importance of bridging the gap between research on effective sex education programing and the implementation of these programs in communities that need them. While many sex educators at the conference were aware of best practices they continued to ask the question: how? How do they actually take what they have learned about high-quality health programming and use it with the individuals, families, and communities they serve? I was thrilled to represent the Center for Family and Community Engagement (CFACE), an organization dedicated to answering this pressing question. We were there to raise awareness about free, online trainings provided by CFACE to members of our North Carolina community. Importantly, we informed conference attendees about a new program CFACE is developing for caregivers of youth in the foster care system. Among other things, this program helps caregivers communicate with youth in foster care about healthy decision-making. We spoke with caseworkers who were very excited to be able to connect the communities they serve to an accessible training, tailored to the needs of local, NC families.”

We here at the Center for Family and Community Engagement are grateful to have these bright students working with us! They represented the Center well, and were able to gain a lot of attention for our work during the conference. Their hard work and dedication is helping, not only the Center, but also those we serve in countless ways.

SHIFT NC is a statewide 501(c)(3) nonprofit that has a rich history dating back to the 80s. The mission of the organization is “Leading North Carolina to improve adolescent and young adult sexual health.” They do this through a variety of methods with the primary purpose to create “positive change for teen pregnancy prevention, HIV and STIs, healthy development, sexuality, and relationships.” Their annual conference is just one of the many initiatives taken to support their mission and assist those they serve. To learn more about SHIFT NC, please visit their website. To learn more about the 2019 SHIFT NC Conference, please visit their conference website.