Five expert members will contribute to the Safe and Supportive Schools Project, which will work with 19 state education agencies to promote the establishment of safe and supportive school environments for all students and staff as an approach to preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections for adolescents.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly half of the 19 million new sexually transmitted diseases reported each year occur in young people, ages 15-24. In 2010, young people, ages 13-24, accounted for 21 percent of all new HIV infections in the U.S.
This alarming trend clearly indicates that a change is needed in the standard national approach to addressing human sexuality. As part of its mission to enhance the quality of life in society and promote respect for human dignity and diversity, ACA supports a proactive approach to youth health and wellbeing. That’s why we have partnered with the American Psychological Association (APA) to implement the Safe and Supportive Schools Project (SSSP).
Funded by the CDC for a five-year period, SSSP will work with 19 state education agencies to promote the establishment of safe and supportive school environments for all students and staff as an approach to preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections for adolescents.
ACA has selected five expert members who will review resources and provide implementation guidance for interventions that school counselors, school nurses, school psychologists, and school social workers can use in their districts.
Our representatives to the Safe and Supportive Schools Project are:
Vanessa Cantu, a school counselor at Besteiro Middle School in Brownsville, Texas. Brownsville is currently the poorest city in the U.S. Consequently; Ms. Cantu works with many homeless students, as well as frequent drug users and students who are practicing unsafe sex.
Rick Gunsallus, PhD., who provides counseling services for schools in Broward County, Florida. The county in which je works has the second highest number of new AIDS cases per capita in the U.S. Dr. Gunsallus counsels homeless students, ESL students, and GLBTQ students.
Brian Law, a school counselor at Valdosta high School in Valdosta, Georgia. Mr. Law’s school has a 40% migrant population. He also has experience working in a Title I school.
Patrick Ryan Mullen, a doctoral student in Counselor Education. His dissertation is focusing on school counseling. Mr. Ryan has served as chair of the School Counseling department at Journeys Academy, an alternative and Title I school in Sanford, Florida.
Amanda Rumsey, a school counselor at McLendon elementary School in Decatur, Georgia. Ms. Rumsey enrolled in the doctoral counselor education program at Georgia State University. She has developed school-wide interventions for at-risk students.
"We are proud to play a role in this progressive initiative,” said Dr. Cirecie West-Olatunji, President of ACA. “Facilitating empowerment for youth to make better decisions early in life, rather than solely focusing on problems after they manifest down the road, is and always will be one of the underlying values of our profession.”
For additional information about the project, please contact David Kaplan at firstname.lastname@example.org.