Tell Them, a small non-profit based in Columbia, South Carolina, has launched the first Virtual March on the South Carolina Satehouse. We at Tell Them are excited to have this opportunity to bring together people from across the state to speak up for responsible reproductive health policies! Check out more at www.tellthemsc.org and read the press release below:
For immediate release Contact: Bonnie Adams Kapp
January 5, 2010 Executive Dir., New Morning Foundation
Group Announces First-Ever Virtual March on the South Carolina Statehouse
Thousands to join online rally in support of sexual health education and access to counseling and services
Columbia, SC – Tell Them, an e-advocacy network managed by the New Morning Foundation, announces a new initiative to education South Carolina legislators about the importance of age-appropriate, medically accurate reproductive health policies for all. Beginning today, people can visit www.tellthemsc.org and register to participate in the state’s first-ever Virtual March. The march itself will take place at noon on March 23 until noon on March 24. During this 24-hour period, marchers will email their lawmakers, letting them know they favor a realistic approach to sexual health education and increased access to clinical services. With more than 4,000 members and growing, Tell Them supports programs that educate young adults about pregnancy prevention and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. "An online rally is an innovative way for busy folks to let their voices be heard on these important issues and ultimately shape the kinds of health policies our young people deserve," said Beth Richardson, Esq., a member of Tell Them and the South Carolina Coalition for Health Families.
The event comes at a critical time for South Carolina. A new report released by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) showed an increase in teen pregnancy rates for the fourth year in a row. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider South Carolina one of the Top Ten HIV "hot spots" in the nation.
"Our long-term goal is to lower the number of teen pregnancies and limit the spread of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections. We can do this through education and access, something our legislators can help provide," said Tell Them member Deborah Billings, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Health Promotion, Education and Behavior at the Arnold School of Public Health; Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina.
Marchers will share powerful statistics with lawmakers. Births to young mothers cost South Carolina taxpayers $156 million annually. This cost includes, among other things, public assistance for teen mothers and their babies. Nationally, South Carolina ranks #2 in cases of Gonorrhea, #3 for Chlamydia, and #8 in pregnancies among 15 to 19 year-olds. For the first time in seven years, the most recent South Carolina HIV Testing Report shows the 20-29 age group with the highest percentage of newly diagnosed HIV positive people.
"For too many years, our state has essentially censored critical health information that our young people need and deserve to know in order to protect themselves from unintended pregnancies and potentially life-threatening disease. Policymakers need to hear from the majority of registered voters who want to see more of our tax dollars invested in public health education and increased access to health services," said Bonnie Adams Kapp, executive director of New Morning Foundation.
The New Morning Foundation is non-partisan private-sector long-term initiative to improve young people’s access to reproductive health education, counseling, and clinical services throughout South Carolina. Tell Them is the organization’s grassroots electronic advocacy network that uses its website and e-alerts to keep members informed. For more information visit www.newmorningfoundation.org or tellthemsc.org