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July 12, 2014, 12:13 am

Teen sex and sexual health, key topics at O, YES! Conference

The Centers for Disease Control reports that the national teen pregnancy rate in America has gone down, but alarmingly, the U.S. teen pregnancy, birth, sexually transmitted diseases, and abortion rates are still significantly higher than those of other western industrialized nations.

On June 29–30, 2012, the Center for Urban Youth Development at Eastern University will host its fourth O, YES! Conference (Our Youth Enlightened about Sex), a city-wide event designed to enlighten middle school and high school students about topics related to sex, healthy relationships, and sexual health. The O, YES! Conference will be held at the Eastern University Academy Charter School, 3300 Henry Avenue/Falls Center, in Philadelphia.

“The O, YES! Conference is a Christian youth conference about sex (healthy relationship and sexual health),” said Dr. Kimberlee “K-lee” Johnson, director of the Center for Urban Youth Development and director of the master’s in Urban Studies program. Johnson is the founder and coordinator for this event.

“The conference is important for a number of reasons … the purpose of the conference is to help youth make wise choices regarding relationships and regarding sex. And, essentially, youth are getting, particularly Christian youth, are getting one of two messages, in faith-based circles, (youth) are getting the message: ‘Don’t Do It’ — and in the secular context, (youth) are getting the message: ‘Wrap It Up’ — and in spite of those two messages, we still have an alarming crisis in the city of Philadelphia, as it relates to youth and sexually transmitted diseases, sexual activity, HIV, and the like,” she said.

Johnson challenges adults in the faith-based community and other concerned adults to get involved in mentoring youth to make better choices at it relates to sex, sexual health and sexual identity.

On March 5, 2012, WHYY Television published an online article entitled, “Recruiting Adults to Prevent Unplanned Teen Pregnancies” on its Newsworks webpage. The article revealed that girls age 10–17, who reside in the 19122 and 19133 zip code have the highest teen pregnancy rate. The rate is 24.69 live births per 1000 while the city has a rate of 17.06 live births per 1000.

According to a story in The Notebook, a publication produced by the Philadelphia School District, “an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 Philadelphia teenagers are mothers. According to Project U-Turn, about 70 percent of those are not likely to graduate due to demands of raising children, finances, lost academic time and lack of child care.”

Dr. Rima Himelstein, M.D., a Crozer-Keystone Health System pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist, said, “American teenagers get pregnant at a higher rate than teens in any other developed country.”

He added that 4 in 10 girls become pregnant at least once before age 20; every hour, 100 teen girls get pregnant and 55 give birth; and 1 in 4 teen parents has a second child within 24 months.

The O, YES! event is a Christian conference and open to any middle school and high school aged youth. Concerned parents and adults are encouraged to attend. The first O,YES! conference was held in 2005, followed by the 2006 conference. After a two-year hiatus, a third conference was held in 2008. All three conferences were based in Philadelphia, drawing hundreds of youth and concerned adults.

Many youth and adults volunteer and/or make financial contributions to support the O,YES! conference. The Rev. Denise Thaxton, associate minister at Sharon Baptist Church, volunteered in 2008 and she plans to volunteer to support the June 2012 conference.

Thaxton said, “(The O, YES! conference) is well organized… With so many children being born out of wedlock and so many children being harmed, I believe that because they’re not being educated in so many ways … children are being born into environments where the moms or dads are not equipped to handle all that it takes to be a mom or a dad. Moms and dads today are so much younger, I don’t know (if they are) really talking about sex and (teen pregnancy) prevention with their children.”

For this year’s O, YES! Conference, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children will provide Free HIV testing, and the conference will feature 14 interactive workshops for youth and concerned adults, a sampling include:

  • Are You Smarter Than a 5th-Grader? – Relationship and Sexual Myths
  • Sexting – Covering the Personal and Legal Consequences of Using Cell Phones to Send Sexual Images and Messages
  • How to Raise a Teenager – Designed to Help Parents Better Understand their Teens

The Friday night June 29th Kick-off (7p.m.–9 p.m.) will be a fun-filled event hosted by local radio personality Dezzie, from Praise Philly 103.9FM, with music by DJ Madquest; including games, prizes and an introduction of the conference theme: Be Transformed. Saturday, June 30th (9 a.m.–4:30 p.m.) will include interactive seminars, skits, entertainment and food. Youth and adult presenters will discuss the real deal about teens and sex; their expertise, experience and Christian worldview will be incorporated into dynamic-life transforming workshops.

To register for the O, YES! conference, June 29–30, go to: www.eastern.edu/oyes. The cost for those who register before June 1 is $25/person. After June 1, registration will be $30 per person. For groups who bring 14 people, the 15th person will attend at no cost. Scholarships are available. To make financial donations, or for more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (215) 769-3105.