Spotlight on Vivian Cortes

Vivian CortesVivian Cortes is on a mission: help young people get through the confusing, often painful process of growing up. She says, “Adolescence is not fun. We forget how hard it can be. But it’s a vital time in a person’s life, and not everyone survives it.” A Brooklyn native, Vivian came to Love Heals in 2007 with a decade of experience in sexual education with diverse populations, including adolescents, parents, formerly incarcerated men, women recovering from drug addiction, and Spanish-speaking immigrants. Vivian wears many hats at Love Heals; she is a health educator with the Love Heals Speakers Bureau, facilitated several cycles of LEAP for Girls, delivers parent-child communication workshops, and occasionally serves as a consultant on special projects.

Vivian is committed to combatting health disparities that exist here and abroad. Aside from her work at Love Heals, she has traveled to the Dominican Republic where she worked with The Institute for Human Sexuality and the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology. She is the Deputy Director and Co-Founder of The FLY (Fierce Leadership for Youth) Academy, an organization that addresses the disparities in higher education by connecting youth of color from underserved communities to professionals of color who have come from similar backgrounds.

Currently, Vivian is pursuing her doctorate in public health at the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College. When asked why she continues to make time to work with Love Heals, Vivian said, “Comparing all the work I’ve done in public health, Love Heals is always the most rewarding because of our different approach. It’s unlike other health education work. You actually feel the power in the presentation. It never gets old.”

LEAP for Girls in East Harlem and East New York

LEAP for Girls at TYWLS

Love Heals’ Leadership Empowerment and Awareness Program (LEAP) for Girls graduated 25 young women of color in East Harlem and East New York during the Spring 2014 cycle.

The Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem (TYWLS), our longest-running partnership, hosted LEAP for Girls for the ninth consecutive year. For their final project, young women at TYWLS remixed TLC’s “Waterfalls” with lyrics of their own about healthy relationships and peer pressure. On May 7th, they performed the song for their peers sporting handcrafted T-shirts promoting healthy values.

In February, Love Heals established a new partnership with Shirley Chisholm Non-Secure Placement (NSP) in East New York, Brooklyn. NSP, a program of Good Shepherd Service, is a residential facility for at-risk adolescent women who have been placed in care by the Family Court. Through long-term, residential services offered at NSP, young women are able to continue their education, sustain relationships with family members, and receive supportive services that assist with healthy development.

For their Community Action Project, NSP participants wrote a collection of 64 haikus describing who they are, how their perspective on HIV has changed as a result of participating in LEAP for Girls, and what the consequences of unsafe sex and teenage pregnancy are. These haikus will be compiled into a book, shared on social media platforms, and distributed at the NSP facility.

The Summer 2013 Newsletter is now available online!

The Summer 2013 newsletter is now available online.

Spring 2013 Love Letters

The Spring 2013 newsletter is now available online.

My story has shaken up almost everyone who has heard it. People are still not having safe sex and still thinking that it can't happen to them.

– Ali Gertz, 1966-1992

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