December 26, 2007
In 2004, Saran Bell-Day of Portsmouth started Youth Against Drugs and Diseases (YADAD). The program educates Hampton Roads youths ages 14-18 about unprotected sex and drugs.
YADAD offers teens HIV/AIDS education, counseling, and testing; drug abuse prevention; domestic violence awareness; mentoring; and career planning and referrals. "Our goal is to provide them with resources that are available within the community," Bell-Day said. "There are a lot of programs out there."
YADAD's Youth Resource Center is in Chesapeake. Bell-Day hopes to open another office in Portsmouth, which leads Virginia in new HIV cases in the 13-24 age range.
In January, Bell-Day will launch the "Respect Yourself Protect Yourself Tour," a series of panel discussion on HIV/AIDS in area high schools. Although the schedule has not yet been set, Bell-Day said the goal is to do two schools per month.
Bell-Day worked as a certified HIV/AIDS educator for the Newport News Community Services Board before quitting to work on YADAD full time. She said Virginia ranks 10th in the nation for the number of new HIV cases reported, up from 19th in 2004.
"People think that it can't happen to them," said Bell-Day. "They think they don't fit the criteria."
For more information, telephone 757-822-0198, or visit www.yadad4kidz.com.