If you want to make a difference and help others while learning about sexual health and keeping yourself safe, then you need to join SMART Youth! You can come to any of our events around the city or come to one of our movie nights or Open Mic events. Check out our schedule to learn what we are doing or e-mail

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

World AIDS Day - SMART Youth

In honor of World AIDS Day, SMART Youth participated in several really great events throughout the first week of December to raise awareness and spread the word about prevention and condom usage! We kicked off the week with Cafecito at the East Harlem CafĂ©.  Sam Kirk, a multidiscipline artist, displayed her artwork and gave a talk about pieces she created especially for SMART. On Tuesday, we worked with Sam to create a wonderful community art project started by SMART Youth and SMART women and completed by the community on Thursday at Viva El Barrio! The finished artwork looked amazing and was a powerful piece conveying what community means to each of the individual artists. It truly was a collaborative effort!

SMART Youth was all over the City collaborating with NYIT (New York Institute of Technology) and NYU (New York University) facilitating sexual health workshops and sitting on panels. Everyone was fascinated by the female condom demonstration and got some specialty condoms!

On Thursday Viva El Barrio!, an annual community event in honor of World AIDS Week, took place, and SMART Youth was there to spread the message about sexual health and prevention. We tabled at the event, and community members were able to come by to “shop” for specialty condoms, learn about many of SMART’s programs, and see a female condom demonstration in action. We were able to give away a ton of condoms, and community members benefited from relevant sexual health information, along with great food and salsa dancing!

As an awesome end to this busy week, SMART Youth hosted an Open Mic Night “The Youth Speak the Truth!” to give youth the opportunity to express what it means to them to be a youth living in a world with HIV. Several youth performed some really powerful poetry, hip-hop, and even visual art to make the night both successful and inspiring. In addition, we had awesome food, activities, and conversation, making the night a great ending to a really busy and phenomenal World AIDS Week!

Monday, December 9, 2013

SMART Youth and MNN Youth Channel Join Forces!

Check out SMART Youth leaders sharing their knowledge about HIV/AIDS with MNN's Youth Channel! In time for World AIDS Day, we bust all the myths about HIV and share resources to protect yourself. SMART Youth's co-founder, Christina Rodriguez, shares great information about HIV/AIDS and SMART Youth in her studio interview and SMART Youth leaders gave insightful interviews. Let us know what you think!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

SMART Youth's Open Mic Night!

Our final event of World AIDS week is The Youth Speak the Truth- SMART Youth's Open Mic Night. Youth are invited to come and share ideas through word, music, and dance!

As always, there will be great talent and delicious food. See you there!

World AIDS Week Event- How to Survive a Plague

SMART Youth is always looking for ways to get involved in the community. SMART Youth is looking forward to partnering with NYU's Nursing Students for Global Health and the Black Student Nurses Association in honor of World AIDS Day!

Please join us for a screening of How To Survive A Plague, followed by a panel discussion. Hope to see you there!

World AIDS Week Events- Cafecito & Viva El Barrio!

In honor of World AIDS Day, SMART Youth wanted to be a resource for the community. We have many great activities planned throughout the first week of December. We are excited to partner with students from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine to help us spread awareness of HIV/AIDS! We always enjoy being a supportive resource for the community. Check out these two great events below. 

We look forward to seeing you! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

SMART Youth Invites You to Our Visioning Workshop

SMART Youth is excited to invite you to come to our up-coming Visioning Workshops on Thursday, November 21, 2013.  We want your opinions to about how to design our brand-new project, SMART's Mobile Cooking Classroom. Below is the flyer detailing the workshop and the time of the youth workshop from 4:30pm-5:30pm.

We are working with Hester Street Collaborative to ensure that residents’ voices will be heard in the design of this project since it is funded through the Participatory Budgeting process in District 8.  All are welcome to attend.

All the sessions will be held at our office space in SCAN LaGuardia (307 East 116th Street).  It would be a great experience to attend the workshop and see how you can be a part of the process!

SMART Youth Calendar November & December 2013

SMART Youth is excited to share our November and December calendar. You are invited to come by and join us for any of our meetings.  See you soon!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Making Connections- How to Network Successfully

On Friday, November 1st, we had a workshop about networking. Networking involves interacting with other people to exchange information and develop contacts.  SMART Youth learned about the importance of networking both in advocacy and in our future career paths.  Plus, we learned new skills to use when connecting with others! Here are just a few of the things we learned:
  1. Networking is about making a genuine connection with another person. It isn’t always about using someone or a connection for your own benefit.
  2. Giving off a good first impression is important. To give a good impression, make sure you introduce yourself first, have a firm hand shake, and have good eye contact.
  3. Nonverbal communication is just as important as verbal communication! Your body language can say a lot about you! 
  4. Before going to an event or meeting, know your goals for meeting other people. 
We also did role-plays to practice our skills. In the coming months SMART Youth leaders will put their skills to practice at community events. We are ready to go out and meet others and share the important work that SMART Youth does in the community!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Honey, May I...?

Here is the basic break down of CONSENT.
It seems to be something that is lacking in our society now-a-days.
No one likes to check in with people anymore for fear of "breaking the mood."
But I think miscommunication later can kill a mood even more.
When sexual consent is not clear or taken into consideration, even more traumatizing things can happen!

To get you started on logically thinking about consent in your life, here is an awesome video clip about sexual consent:

In an educational skit from NiteStar, this quote always stuck in my mind, "NO may not always mean NO, but NO ALWAYS MEANS STOP!"

No may not always come in the form of NO.

Here are a few ways someone might try to get the point across without actually saying no, but they are all synonymous!
-Back Off! (or some more aggressive language)
-I'm tired tonight.
-Can we just watch a movie?
-I'm not interested.
-You're not my type.
-I'd prefer to do... (some other activity)
Anything else along those lines. I think we've heard a few in our lifetimes. (You can leave some of your favorite examples in the comments if you'd like!)

I've mentioned a "Yes, No, Maybe" list in previous blogs (Yes, No, Maybe So )
This is a wonderful tool to get to know YOURSELF.
You should never consent to anything unless you feel comfortable. That is the whole point. Know yourself and then other people can get to know you and experience things with you.

This is the main point of consent. To communicate. Body language is too broad of a gesture to make assumptions about.

If you are unsure about anything, JUST ASK. It may be uncomfortable, but at least you will KNOW for CERTAIN. The only time you get a true "Green Light" with consent is if an enthusiastic and unpersuaded "Yes!" is heard.

The only time a "yes" is disregarded is if someone is intoxicated or pressured to changed their mind. This means that the consent was not fully their choice, they couldn't make a complete judgement of their actions, and so forth.

Let us just ingrain this notion into our minds and go forth and have conversations with our partners, friends, and families!

It is a process but will pave the way to a better and clearer future for many!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

This week at SMART Youth we watched “How to Survive a Plague,” a documentary about the activist movement around HIV/AIDS. This Academy-Award nominated film, which was released in 2012, followed activist groups such as ACT-UP from the early 80’s, when HIV/AIDS was just beginning as a public health crisis all the way through the late 90’s, when effective HIV treatments began to improve the quality life and increase the lifespan of those living with HIV. The film shows how effective activism can be to bring attention to an issue that is not on the national or international radar as well as force people in positions of power to take action.
After the movie, we had a lively discussion about what the youth were surprised to learn from the film, why activism is necessary, and the differences between HIV/AIDS issues in the 80’s and today. SMART Youth leaders also discussed how important it is for us to continue on this work, especially as it relates to advocating for greater funding for prevention efforts and HIV treatment as well as helping to end the stigmatization of HIV. We also recapped the Halloween party, ate popcorn, and welcomed new youth. It was a great movie night!

SMART Youth's Halloween Party!

On Saturday, October 19th, SMART Youth hosted its 9th annual Halloween Party for NYC youth! With a DJ spinnin’ some beats, great food, and MAC makeup artists making everyone look fabulous, the party was a huge success.  Plus, it ended with great dancing and a fun costume contest with some great prizes!

This year we added a new twist. Every youth received gold or silver beads when they arrived to the party. At 3 different times during the party everyone had to meet someone they didn’t know and exchange necklaces, as many time as they wanted. At the end of the party we revealed that gold necklaces meant you had unprotected sex and silver necklaces meant you had protected sex. This meant every time you exchanged necklaces you might have had unprotected sex not only with that one person, but also had sex with every one of their previous sexual partners. The activity showed how important it is to make the decision to use a condom every time someone has sex!

Thank you to all of the youth who came to the party and made it a success! Special thanks to Julisa’s for hosting the party, and to DJ Ski HI for donating his time, and to our fabulous MAC makeup artists Shaun Thomas Gibson and Nicole Cerro. 

SMART Youth Sex Ed- She Didn’t Ask For It!

On Friday, October 11th, SMART Youth was fortunate to have Marlene Edelstein, a health educator from the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, and our very own Ann Rodwell-Lawton present She Didn’t Ask For It! The workshop focused on understanding the role of acceptance of sexual violence in our culture and how it is present all around us. This is commonly called Rape Culture.

We worked towards understanding that Rape Culture is the normalization of sexual violence and a culture that perpetuates this norm. Breaking down this complex definition, we also brainstormed how this affects our lives and gave examples we’ve seen around us.

It became very clear this issue permeates all aspects of our society including politics, media coverage, pop culture, music, authority responses to sexual violence, and how we interact with our friends and family.  We also explored the unfortunately reality of victim blaming and slut-shaming in our culture.

Now that we understand rape culture and how it affects us, we can start to change and make our society a safer place for everyone.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

SMART Youth Sex Ed- Contraceptives 101: Mo' Babies, Mo' Problems
This week at SMART Youth, our very own Christina Rodriguez presented Contraceptives 101: Mo’ Babies Mo’ Problems, based on a blog post here in November 2012. She highlighted all of the contraceptive options available to youth, including both immediate and long-term solutions. In addition, we learned how to access each of these methods, any side effects they may have, and the relative cost of each one.

We also played Contraceptives: True or False in which we debunked several contraceptive myths, including the myth that being on the pill will definitely cause you to gain weight. Although all of these methods are effective at preventing pregnancy, many of these solutions do not protect against STI’s, so it is still necessary to wear a condom!
Lastly, we discussed details for the Halloween party, including catering options and prize selections. In the end, the group decided on a variety of heavy appetizers in place of one type of food (Italian, BBQ, etc.), and after a very spirited debate and vote, costume contest prizes will include gift cards from Target, Crumbs Bakery, and more!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Save the Date: SMART Youth Halloween 2013

It's that time of year again!
SMART Youth's Annual Halloween Party!

When: Saturday, October 19th 2013
Where: Julisa's- 460 Malcom X Blvd (b/t W 132nd & 133rd streets)
Time: 12pm-3pm
RSVP through Janet Carter, or call (212) 289-3900

Hope to see you there! 
(Costume optional, but there will be prizes for dressing up!)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hey SMART Youth Supporters,

Did you know that today is Global Female Condom Day? 

Join us in spreading the word about the benefits of female condoms. Here are three ways to get involved:
1) Post on Facebook! Here is a possible post:

Today is Global Female Condom Day! Check out how to use female condoms at Help spread the word about safe sex!

2) Send out a tweet on Twitter! Make sure to use hashtags #GFCD and #femalecondoms.

3) Talk to your friends and family about how the use of female condoms protects against unintended pregnancy and STDs, including HIV. More talking points can be found at

Friday, September 6, 2013

We're Back!


I'm sure you have missed SMART Youth's wonderful blogs and updates.
We have missed providing them for you!
We took a little vacation, but we are back with a full schedule and wonderful upcoming events!

So keep checking back for all our awesome information and blogs!


Monday, May 13, 2013

Save the Date: Barbershop Talk!

SMART Youth's event for all males (male identifying) is coming at the end of the month!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Disclosure & You

With HIV specific laws that lead to criminalization and discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS, there is a lot of pressure and fear surrounding disclosure.
There is a notion on the rise, that as soon as we create a SAFE & SUPPORTIVE environment for disclosure, is when we can truly conquer these laws and the stigma associated with them.

Here is a break down of:
How you can be comfortable disclosing
How you can be the best listener for someone who is disclosing to you!

Person Disclosing:

Check out these previous blogs for in depth tips on how to go about disclosing safely and comfortably: 

Some quick take away tips are that you should disclose on YOUR time!
This is your information. Your status. Your life. 
Always consider why you are disclosing and who you are disclosing to.
I believe it is always best to have a support system in place for you, no matter what the end reaction after disclosing is.

Person Being Disclosed To: 

You wouldn't be wasting your time if you took a glance at the blogs about the person disclosing, it could help you get the "in their shoes" perspective.
I have some specific tips for the person in this category anyway.

1. Listen - Put yourself in the other person's shoes, wait until the person disclosing is done, take time to compose your thoughts.

2. Questions - The person disclosing should give you the floor for questions, it's a natural reaction to hearing someone's story. Maybe you need something cleared up, maybe you haven't been fully educated on a certain topic. Speak up. Try to formulate your questions the best you can and take it as a learning experience. 

3. You Have Been CHOSEN - Feel honored. The person disclosing has chosen you with their personal information. There is a sense of trust and hopeful support behind this decision. You should not be the one DRAGGING the disclosure out, you are not allowed to do the CHOOSING.

4. You Still Have Free Will - You don't have to stay in contact with the person disclosing just because they have told you this information. You are allowed to stay or leave. But I would take my time with this decision, get all the information, and atleast let the person know the reasons behind your decision.

5. Future Plans - This is more for the relationship people, but it is not selfish to consider what your future plans may be and how they might change if you are with an HIV positive person. 
Some things to think about are: Consistent use of condoms, routine testing, planning pregnancies in order to reduce transmission to partner and baby...
A Sero-Discordant relationship (One partner is Positive, the other is Negative) may or may not be what is right for you in the long run, but it is always best to get all the information before a decision.

6. Take Your Time But Make Sure To COMMUNICATE - Silence can be awkward, but sometimes it is necessary after a lot of information enters a room. Absorb. Your mind might be racing (or not, I don't know) but the person's disclosing heart AND mind is racing most likely a lot faster than yours. Don't let everything stay bottled up, let the person know what is on your mind.

*7. THIS IS NOT YOUR INFORMATION TO TELL OTHERS - The person disclosing has disclosed to you. They have disclosed their status and probably even more background history that goes along with that. It is NOT your story or history to tell. Unless you are in full communication with the person disclosing, and explain why you feel it would be in your best interest to possibly talk to a trusted adult about the situation, DO NOT DISCLOSE FOR SOMEONE ELSE!

That is all!
Always remember though, SMART Youth is there for your support no matter what category you belong to!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sex on YOUR Terms!

On March 15th, SMART Youth had their National Women & Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day event at NYIT.

We had yummy food, covered a variety of great topics, and had great discussions!
A few gentlemen even wanted to join!

Our youth leaders and youth facilitator led workshops! It was full SMART Youth run!

Jeannie doing a female condom demonstration.

We discussed topics such as:
*Body Image & Self Love
*Female Masturbation (This was a new one for SMART Youth, and really got the mind racing!)
*Consent & Condom Negotiation
*Female Condom Pro's, Con's, & How To's
*Empowerment/Advocacy Opportunities

SMART Youth Ladies!
We had a wonderful turn out and can't wait for next year!
Stay tuned for the Male Version, "Barbershop Talk" at the end of May!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Sex On My Terms!

SMART Youth and Roots are hosting an event for
National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pick Up's, Hook Up's, & Break Up's

SMART Youth's Post-Valentine's Day event was a success!
Despite the rain and trains... we still managed to have a great event and hopefully provide people with new and valuable information!

If you weren't able to make it, or are curious about what we discussed, here is a little summary of each section.

Pick Up's:
1. Figure out what you are looking for (physical attraction, smarts, style, etc.)
2. Be confident. (Always a valuable attribute)
3. Don't push yourself onto them. (OR make them uncomfortable)
4. Make sure you are in a safe space. (And a place you would want to pick someone up at!)
5. Prepare yourself for rejection. (It happens! Don't let it get you down, move on with your head up)

Hook Up's:

When you're ready to continue some form of a relationship with someone, you should prepare yourself. 
You should know what YOU WANT and what you will possibly want from a partner.
Check out this Yes, No, Maybe list to figure out some guidelines for yourself and partner(s): 
Yes, No, Maybe

Remember, Hook-up's are open for interpretation! Communication is key in order to figure out what type of relationship you are experiencing with someone in order to reduce the "gray area" which we all dread. 

Hook-Up's can be one night, kissing, sex or no sex, consistent, a few months, years, once in awhile... or a full relationship!
Know your rules and respect yourself so others can show you the same respect you deserve!


So it's coming to an end... Either it's for the best, going to hurt, or going to be the best day of your life. 
It also all depends on whether or not you are being dumped or the one doing the dumping.

*These are very general tips since it all depends on how you feel about the person and the reason for leaving a person.  

For the Dumper: 
-Be clear. Make it known that this is the end of whatever you have created with this other person.
-Try not to be a jerk.
-Don't lie. "It's not you, it's me.", come on... seriously? 
-Establish rules for after the relationship is over.

For the Dumped: 
-Listen & Absorb.
-Don't jump to conclusions.
-Take a moment, if you need one. 
-Accept it for the moment. If you so desire to pursue (which might not be a good idea if they are very clear), sleep on it for a bit. Let the air clear.

There are ways that people prefer to breakup/be broken up with, like face to face contact.
Texting and emails are at the bottom of that list, but it happens. It depends on where you are in the relationship or the type of relationship.

Good Luck and Stay Safe!
What a crazy thing relationships are...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Rescheduled Valentine's Day!

SMART Youth is back in action and with a new date for our AWESOME Valentine's Day event:
"Pick Ups, Hook Ups, and Break ups"

Saturday, February 23rd
2-4:30 PM
Vineapple Cafe (71 Pineapple street, Brooklyn, NY 11201)
2/3 trains to Clark St. OR A/C to High St.

Friday, February 8, 2013

V-Day and Snow Storm Nemo!

 Due to Snow Storm Nemo our Valentine's Day event:
"Pick-Ups, Hook-Ups, and Break-ups" will be rescheduled for a future date!
Stay tuned, stay safe, and stay warm!

Happy Valentine's Day in advance!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Valetine's Day Event: "Pick- Up's, Hook-Up's, & Break-Up's"

SMART Youth's Valentine's Day Event is NEXT SATURDAY!

Join us for some tips on picking up a date before V-Day, establishing a date with your "main squeeze", or moving on from that Anti-V-Day partner you've been trying to ditch.

Raffle Prizes! Pizza! Fun & SMART People! 

Saturday, February 9th
Vineapple Cafe ( 71 Pineapple St. Brooklyn, NY 11201)
(2/3 to Clark st., A/C to High st.)

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Little Insight on Your Labs

Last week SMART Youth had a quick overview of what goes on at your doctor's appointment.
Whether it's blood work, or a regular check up, here are a few things to help you clear up all the confusing "doctor talk."

Basic Blood Work:

CBC: Complete Blood Count, this provides information on the kinds and number of cells in the blood, especially red blood cells.

Iron: (Fe), blood cells carrying oxygen.
Blood cells that are lacking in oxygen can mean someone is anemic (low iron). This can lead to lack of energy and lethargy (very tired most of the time).

Cholesterol: (HDL, LDL, and combined) The amount of cholesterol in your blood can come from your diet, weight, or even genetics (hereditary trait).
  • HDL: High Density Lipoprotein, this is also known as the GOOD cholesterol since it can provide protection AGAINST Heart Disease.
    Above 60 milligrams/deciliter (mg/dL) is Above Average
    40-60 mg/dL is Average
    Below 40 mg/dL is Low
  • LDL: Low Density Lipoprotein, this is also know as the BAD cholesterol since is can CAUSE Heart Disease.
    Below 100 mg/dL is Above Average
    130 mg/dL is Average
    130-159 mg/dL is Border-line High
    160 or more is High
  • HDL + LDL are both levels combined.  

What else happens at the Doctor's Office?

BMI: Body Mass Index, your doctors checks your weight range against the precautions of either being underweight or overweight in comparison to your body type.


Pap Smears: Your Gynecologist (GYN) does a swab of your cervix for abnormal cells. These can consist of pre-cancer or cancer cells.
HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) can cause abnormal cells in the cervix and is the leading cause of Cervical Cancer, which has NO SYMPTOMS!
Pap smears should be done every 3-5 years (once sexually active).
If you have ever had an abnormal pap smear, it is recommended to get a pap smear annually.

Testicular Self Exams: These self exams should happen once a month after a shower. You are checking for any changes (pain, lumps, swelling) and a size comparison between testes.
*Testicular Cancer is most common in men UNDER 40!
So don't forget to do this quick self exam! If there are any changes go to your doctor!

Hope this helped clear up some alphabet soup with your labs and appointments!
Stay Safe, Stay SMART!

Friday, January 18, 2013

SMART Youth Answers: So, Sext Me, Maybe?

*This blog was written by another youth leader that is not Christina.

Sexting, AKA sexual text messaging, is the act of sending or receiving sexually explicit or implicit text messages or images electronically via wireless device. Think of it as the modern day version of ‘phone sex’ -- except, unlike phone sex, sexting leaves very little to the imagination.

Sexting originated in the early 2000s as phones started to have  cameras and has become a trend among teens curious about sex and sexuality.

  • Talk about both the small (false sense of intimacy, loss of control, possible future issues in jobs/relationships) and large consequences (jail, social isolation, depression, bullying, school suspensions, etc)
  • Sexting includes more than just texts today -- Facetime, Skype, Facebook, etc are all places where "sexting" occurs 
  • Digital technology ensures that all images and words are available forever and are almost impossible to "delete" or destroy -- (ex. Anthony Weiner's twitter pictures of his private parts will always be available.)
  • Not just an issue for teens, but it is the time when we are most curious and susceptible to other people's requests.

The lesson to be learned here is that the images you send wirelessly can be permanent. You should be very careful when sending sexual messages and images because you never know who else will see it.

Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn't mean you should!
Be Smart and Be Safe!
Understand the consequences of your actions.
The choice is yours.