Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Youth Speak Out on World Population Day

July 11, 2006 9:30-10:15 AM

Speakers: Sarah Mattison (UNFPA)
Beth Pellettieri (Advocates for Youth)
Maxwell Ciardullo (SIECUS)
Cassie Gardner (Sierra Club)
Jen Stange (Planned Parenthood)

In honor of the UN holiday World Population Day, UNFPA and CCMC sponsored a panel in which young advocates from different organizations centered around issues such as HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health, family planning and the environment. Each panelist discussed what effect population has on each issue.

Sarah Mattison first introduced Beth Pelletieri who spoke about the importance of the world’s youth not only becoming engaged and active in advocating its cause, but also that youth be directly integrated in the policy and decision making process. She also discussed the importance of communication and collaboration amongst different youth organizations in disseminating pertinent information to the public.

Maxwell Ciardullo discussed the importance of educating youth on sexuality as well as the importance of making information available to those who are seeking it by changing current legislation. Ciardullo stated that young people, despite the media’s attempt to indicate otherwise, are not apathetic and need to organize in order to exert their energy, passion and enthusiasm in a productive manner.

Cassie Gardner discussed the link between population and environment and how that relationship affects women. Gardner also spoke about the importance in educating the youth as she stated that the U.S. has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies. Gardner offered three solutions to challenges the world faces regarding population: organize, support the basic human right to be educated and curb one’s own consumption.

Jen Stange also discussed the importance of educating and informing young people on sexuality and reproductive health by stating that the leading cause of death for U.S. girls whose ages range from 15-19 is unplanned pregnancy. Stange stated that it is imperative that legislation be changed and that information and education regarding sexuality must be available at all levels, including in classrooms throughout the world. Stange also denounced the current administration’s approach to preventing HIV/AIDS, which is “abstinence until marriage”, by stating that it ignores many factors that still create risks.

by Megan Shaw

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