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Southcoast Hospitals RAPPP launches youth initiative in New Bedford

For Immediate Release Contact: Joyce Faria Brennan
May 30, 2008 508-961-5270
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NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — Southcoast Hospitals' RAPPP (Responsible Attitudes toward Pregnancy, Parenting & Prevention) Program today launched a new program for community members and organizations involved in working with Greater New Bedford's youth.

"The Greater New Bedford Healthy Communities, Healthy Youth Initiative" was presented to more than 150 community members and local organizations today at the Hawthorne Country Club in Dartmouth, with the goal of uniting all sectors of the community that interact with the city's young people.

The new program is based on a national model currently being implemented in high-risk communities across the country. Created by the nonprofit Search Institute, the program is being sponsored locally by Southcoast Hospitals RAPPP program and aims to create a stronger community for our young adults by emphasizing positive developmental assets.

Linda Bodenmann, Chief Operating Officer for Southcoast Hospitals Group, said the program is important to the New Bedford community because it does not focus on the negatives, but rather "the positive ways that we can all come together to form a strong network that will help young people not only succeed in their lives, but really flourish."

"As we read the daily headlines, you might say this is impossible. But today you will learn that it is not only possible, but it is already happening in communities like ours all across the country," Bodenmann said.

The "40 Developmental Assets" are the core of the program and are defined as experiences and qualities that have a tremendous positive influence on young people such as self-esteem, encouragement, decision making, conflict resolution and setting future goals. The "assets" serve as a springboard for positive behavior and healthy development.

"It is important that as a community we come together to support our youth as they grow and mature. This new initiative will provide local youth with the tools they need to make healthy life choices that will lead them to success," said New Bedford Mayor Scott W. Lang.

New Bedford's program will focus primarily on reinforcing young people's assets consistently throughout all of the organizations that interact with New Bedford's adolescents — this includes at home, schools, through municipal organizations and youth outreach workers.

"The developmental assets that young people need in order to succeed are not new. What is new is the approach and need for collaboration between all members of the community that interact with our youth," said Cindy Guilbeault, who has lead Southcoast's youth advocacy program, RAPPP, for more than a decade.

"If we are all sharing the same positive messages and working toward a common goal, we will empower our youth to make positive choices."

One Voice

The Search Institute is a national nonprofit organization that is building momentum across the country with the expansion of its "40 Developmental Assets" program. The program has served as a foundation for youth educators for decades. The New Bedford Healthy Youth Initiative expands on the asset-building program by creating a collective language and culture that is consistent across all community members who interact with the area's youth.

According to The Search Institute, the more community assets that a young person can access, the greater his/her chances are of succeeding.

"Instead of constantly pointing out the negatives, we need to start highlighting the positives," Guilbeault said. "The more consistent the messages are coming from the adults who interact with our young people, the more powerful an impact it will have on our society."

New Bedford's community organizations, government agencies, businesses, schools, youth-based programs and other caring individuals attended the free seminar introducing the program to the New Bedford community.

Over the next few months Southcoast's RAPPP program will sponsor "train-the-trainers" programs, workshops and community meetings.

"It is not a quick fix, but rather a learned behavior that over time will encourage young people to choose positive paths and grow up to be competent, caring and responsible, and most importantly less likely to engage in risky behavior," she said.

Information is available by calling 508-994-0548.

About Southcoast Hospitals' RAPPP Program

Targeting the region's Youth Risk Behaviors, the Southcoast Hospitals' RAPPP (Responsible Attitudes toward Pregnancy, Parenting & Prevention) program began as an adolescent pregnancy prevention program designed to be used within the curriculum of the health or science department of high and junior high school systems. Since its inception the RAPPP program has touched more than 20,000 teens and parents, including more than 12,000 students through its in-school programs at area senior and junior high schools. All materials, models, staff support and training are free of charge to the participating schools as part of the Southcoast Hospitals Group community benefits program.

The Southcoast RAPPP program also offers parents and adolescents a place to go to find answers about those difficult questions. The Southcoast RAPPP Family Education Youth Resource Center at Dartmouth Place, 49 State Road, Pequot Building, Suite 105 in Dartmouth, offers free information, tools and workshops for today's parents, youth and practitioners. Call for hours and more information 508-994-0548 or go to

About Southcoast

Southcoast Health System is a community based health delivery system with multiple access points, offering an integrated continuum of health services throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and East Bay, Rhode Island. It includes the three hospitals that make up Southcoast Hospitals Group — Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford and Tobey Hospital in Wareham.

Southcoast provides advanced clinical services, such as open heart surgery, angioplasty and heart rhythm services, neurosurgery, weight loss surgery, orthopedic surgery and advanced imaging services. Southcoast is a not-for-profit charitable organization that depends on the support of the community to provide services.

More information is available

Media Contact

Joyce Faria Brennan
Public Information Officer
Phone: 508-961-5270
Pager: 508-387-9605
Fax: 508-961-5876

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