IWES Makes History – Founder/CEO Dr. Shervington on the First Ever Congressional Hearing on Childhood Trauma

On July 11, 2019 Dr. Denese Shervington, President and CEO of IWES, gave testimony to the United States Congress Committee on Oversight and Reform. Dr. Shervington was invited to give expert testimony by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) in the first Congressional committee meeting ever held to address trauma as a public health crisis. The theme, Identifying, Preventing, and Treating Childhood Trauma, brought together trauma survivors, notable scholars, medical experts, and community leaders to identify meaningful steps that elected officials can take to address the growing impact of trauma in United States. This historic conversation was an acknowledgment of a national crisis that demands governmental intervention and response. Read more about how our work has helped to inform this historic conversation.

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Iman ShervingtonComment
School is in Session with BY-LA

School is in session, along with our Believe In Youth - Louisiana (BY-LA) program! As the doors to schools all across the state begin to open, our health educators will also return to schools and community centers bringing critical health information to Louisiana teens. Over the summer our team was busy preparing for the upcoming year by onboarding new health educators, expanding our network of sites and getting ready to make sure we can provide another stellar year of BY-LA. Read about our summer and why we are excited about this upcoming school year.

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Iman ShervingtonComment
Envisioning a Trauma-Informed New Orleans

Following Hurricane Katrina there has been a lack of investment in mental health services in New Orleans. To address this gap, in 2016 a team made up of journalist Jarvis DeBerry and IWES staff members Lisa Richardson and Iman Shervington was chosen by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to join the first cohort of their Culture of Health Leaders (CoHL) program. Following RWJF’s Culture of Health Leaders framework and commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, the Team spent two years in leadership development courses and convenings and in their third and final year they have been developing a “strategic initiative” to build a Culture of Health in New Orleans. The initiative builds on the success of IWES’ city-wide, public will campaign, In That Number, and in conjunction with the City’s Childhood Trauma task force they have posed the question, “What would a trauma-informed New Orleans look like?” See how our In That Number campaign is finding answers to that question by going to our blog.

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Iman ShervingtonComment
Doing it the IWES Way: National HIV Testing Day 2019

For the past nine years, Walgreens and Greater Than AIDS have partnered with health departments, community-based organizations, and clinics across the US to provide confidential, FREE HIV testing, counseling, and health referrals at designated Walgreens locations. This year National HIV Testing Day was held on June 27th with the theme of “Doing It My Way” that emphasized and celebrated the importance of why individuals choose to get tested while providing new and returning clients with information on other options to prevent and treat HIV like PrEP. With over 260 sites participating in National HIV Testing Day this year, the day was not only geared towards addressing the need for HIV testing, but also highlighting the importance of centering the conversation of HIV health disparities in our homes, churches, and communities. Click the link below to read more about our participation for National HIV Testing Day.

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Iman ShervingtonComment
Innovation at IWES!

Here at IWES we have always kept the communities we work alongside at the center of our work. By working with the community we are able to deeply involve our people in our process—from community advisory boards to parent committees. This year, thanks to experts in human-centered design thinking, we are granted the opportunity to take this philosophy to new heights. In partnership with Texas A&M University and Power to Decide, IWES is propelling into the next wave of program design in teen pregnancy prevention. Follow this link to find out more about our human-centered design programming and see how it fits in with IWES’ mission.

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Iman ShervingtonComment
The Heart of it All: HIV Testing & Prevention Role Model Stories

IWES’ HIV Testing and Prevention (HTP) Program is consistently releasing new rounds of Role Model Stories (RMS) on all of our social media platforms. Our Role Model Stories are true testimonials of individuals in our very own community who have made positive behavior changes to reduce their risks of acquiring or transmitting HIV, including getting tested, using condoms or adhering to treatment. Read on to learn about these critical narratives and how they’re impacting communities in New Orleans.

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Iman ShervingtonComment
Addressing Blight to Build Healthy Neighborhoods: A Collaboration Between IWES & Tulane University

Since Hurricane Katrina flooded 80% of New Orleans’ housing stock in 2005, the city has struggled to address the problem of widespread blight. Abandoned properties, dilapidated buildings and vacant lots have been a part of the city’s landscape for decades. In the aftermath of disaster, blight became a public health threat and a glaring reminder of the unhealed wounds left by Katrina. To assess how the health of a neighborhood impacts the health of it’s residents, IWES has partnered with the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. To see what this 5-year project will look like, check out more in our blog.

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Iman ShervingtonComment
Impacting Young Lives through our CATS Program

Since Spring 2017, IWES has been offering a positive youth development program to girls ages 11-19. The Creating a Truer Self (CATS) Program, offers young girls health education and skill-building that encourages them to make responsible decisions through building self-esteem, recognizing healthy relationships, creating a positive self-image and learning the importance of nutrition and exercise. Find out more about the newest group we hosted with CATS, working with teen moms in Marrero that participate in the YoungLives program.

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Iman ShervingtonComment
The CrAFT Curriculum: A Deeper Dive into the How’s and Why’s of IWES’ Unique Spin on Comprehensive Sex Ed

The CrAFT Curriculum does not have a brief elevator pitch. In short, CrAFT—which stands for Creating A Future Together—is a comprehensive sex education program rooted in a human rights framework that integrates a gender-transformative and trauma-informed approach to educate young people about their health and rights. It may sound complex, but the CrAFT curriculum is an innovative new educational tool developed by IWES to serve the needs of students across Louisiana. To find out why we created it, how it accomplishes its goals, and what’s been happening with the curriculum for the past few months, check out our blog!

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Iman ShervingtonComment
IWES, Metropolitan Human Services District, and the Opioid Epidemic

This year IWES began collaboration with Metropolitan Human Services District (MHSD) to expand services for women in the Greater New Orleans Area who have substance use disorders and a history of trauma. With the national spotlight focused on the ongoing opioid crisis, IWES is especially concerned with the vulnerability of women with substance use disorders and the impacts these issues may have on their children and families. Find out how more about our Women’s Recovery Groups and our work around substance abuse by checking out this piece.

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Christina IllarmoComment
BY-LA Is Back!!!

Believe in Youth-Louisiana (BY-LA), one of our positive youth development programs, is back! This trauma-informed teen pregnancy prevention program teaches age-appropriate and medically accurate sexual and emotional health to youth in Louisiana. After taking a brief hiatus in the summer of 2018, BY-LA resumed implementation at the start of the 2018 school year, expanding into new territory within the state. Find out more about BY-LA’s rebirth here!

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Iman ShervingtonComment
Understanding Our Mental Health Systems

We are excited to embark on our latest project, “A Situational Analysis: Understanding the Mental Health Infrastructures in the U.S.” In collaboration with and through financial support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Baptist Community Ministries, we are conducting a situational analysis of the mental health systems in New Orleans, Louisiana, Buffalo, New York, Columbus, Ohio, and San Antonio, Texas in an effort to identify systems- and community-level mental health service gaps.

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Iman ShervingtonComment
Letter from the Editor - August Edition: Trauma in Our City

In 2014, data we collected showed rates of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression two to three times the national rate among youth in our programs. In response to these alarming statistics, we created a citywide public awareness campaign to advocate for compassion and transformative responses to address the suffering of young people in New Orleans. This editorial tracks the history of the In That Number campaign forward to today when we are proud to say that we see concrete action being taken to address the needs of our most vulnerable youth. Read this Editorial by our Guest Editor, Dr. Denese Shervington, to learn about the past, present and future of In That Number

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Right Now at IWES: HIV Testing & Prevention Program

This year saw our HIV Testing & Prevention Program’s biggest testing numbers yet, plus further growth of our other program components such as ARTAS, which offers individuals living with HIV one-on-one assistance for linking to treatment services, and PROMISE, a community-level intervention in which peer advocates are selected and tasked with encouraging testing, distributing safer sex materials and role model stories in their communities. Read our blog to see what the HTP team has been up to and how you can get involved in the fight against HIV and HIV stigma in our community.

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The Future of IWES: Global Early Adolescent Study

Beginning in the Fall of 2018, IWES will transition its sexual health education away from the Believe in Youth - Louisiana (BY-LA) program to participate in the Global Early Adolescent Study (GEAS). The goal of GEAS is to understand the circumstances and experiences in early adolescence that predispose young people to sexual health risks and promote healthy sexuality. As the only North American site, find out what we’ll be doing to participate in GEAS and see how you can get involved.

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When Responsibility Becomes Action

On the first day of every class our students are asked, “When you think of the word responsibility what comes to mind?” They often have a variety of “typical” answers like doing their homework, being kind to their friends, taking care of their siblings, etc. However, the students at Morris Jeff interpreted the question through another lens, by branching outside of themselves to discuss their obligation to do something in the current national gun violence movement. Check out this article to see what they did to take responsibility for their future!

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Iman ShervingtonComment
It Takes A Village

The HIV Testing and Prevention Program (HTP) at IWES focuses on reducing stigma and providing increased access to HIV testing, linkage to care for people living with HIV and support service referrals to communities, specifically African American and Latinx communities, that have barriers to accessing these resources. Recently, HTP has shifted its focus to the Hispanic/Latinx population, a community that has been repeatedly left out of the conversation about HIV/STIs locally due to the lack of cultural competence and services offered in Spanish. To address these barriers, HTP has partnered with NOLA Village, or El Pueblo NOLA, an organization that is a hub for the Latinx community. Find out more about the unique partnership between IWES and NOLA Village, and how this approaching is breaking down barriers to provide vital health resources.

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Iman ShervingtonComment