Post-Standard (Syracuse) (12.01.11) - Wednesday, December 07,
Open since October, a new drop-in facility at the Fulton
Health Center is helping fill a gap in STD and pregnancy
prevention programming among teens in Oswego County. It serves
13- to 24-year-olds and is run by the nonprofit agency Oswego
County Opportunities (OCO).
The new service came about after an area survey showed a lack
of sexual health counseling and education options. OCO
requested funding from the state Department of Health to open
the center, run collaboratively by the agency, YMCA, and the
Fulton City School District.
"The goal is to get people in, get them educated, counseled or
to get them long-term help," said Ellen Lazarek, collaboration
manager for OCO. The drop-in center is staffed by health
educators, providers, and trained teen peer volunteers -
something Lazarek believes is vital. "Having peers relay
information is more engaging and they retain it better than if
it were to come from an adult," she said.
Cheryl Perkins, a health educator for the city school
district, agrees. "Kids are much more apt to listen to
[fellow] youths, and it's important that they have the right
information," said Perkins, who trains the center's 50 or so
The Oswego County Health Department sees too many "teen moms
with a knowledge deficit," said supervising public health
nurse Judy Lester. OCHD handles referrals for pregnancy-
related counseling and information. From 2006 to 2008, 3.1
percent of births in the county were among females ages 10-17.