Adolescent Education Program/Teens Helping Each Other (THEO)

The Adolescent Education Program (AEP) is one of SUNY Downstate’s earliest outreach and prevention programs, empowering youth to achieve and maintain good health, set and achieve academic goals, and serve their communities since 1989.  The AEP, targeting youth ages 10-24, provides education regarding HIV prevention, teen pregnancy, and substance use through skills building and counseling to youth at risk.  Central to AEP’s success is Teens Helping Each Other (THEO), which trains a cohort of adolescents to become peer educators through its annual Summer Training Institute.  After a rigorous 76 hour training, peers participate in a wide array of initiatives.  See for more information. In addition, see THEO Adventures, a blog platform for teens in the THEO Program to speak, influence, share, delight, and change the world for the better. It is also a platform to express the voices of teens. 

Adolescent Education Program/THEO

Pregnancy Prevention

Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP): This project provides pregnancy prevention information and two evidence-based curriculum interventions for young people between the ages of 11-18.  Making Proud Choices (MPC) and Be Proud! Be Responsible (BPBR) are conducted in after-school and school-based settings. MPC is an 8-module curriculum that provides adolescents with the knowledge, confidence and skills necessary to reduce their risk of sexually transmitted infections (STI), HIV and pregnancy by abstaining from sex or using condoms if they choose to have sex. The intervention is based on cognitive-behavioral theories, focus groups and the authors’ extensive experience working with youth. MPC is an adaptation and extension of the original BPBR curriculum that integrates teen pregnancy prevention along with HIV/STI prevention. In addition to these interventions, the Peer Leaders write, direct and perform in a monthly YouTube Web Series called The CHAT, which tackles youth sexual health issues from a young person’s point of view.

THEO Health Advocate Program (THAP)

Trained Youth Health Advocates provide HIV/STI and hepatitis C (HCV) services to young people between the ages of 13-24. Advocates provide evidence-based and medically accurate sexual education to young people living with HIV and to youth at the highest risk for HIV, STI, and HCV, which includes court-involved youth, children of incarcerated parents, and young women formerly involved in sex trafficking. Be Proud! Be Responsible! (BPBR) and Community PROMISE are utilized to deliver these services. BPBR is a six-week session that focuses on HIV/STI and pregnancy prevention. Community PROMISE is a high impact prevention intervention that relies on role model stories to reduce HIV-risk behaviors and increase engagement in care.

Youth Advocacy Outreach Project

Peer Leaders conduct workshops for peers in the community on various social topics including HIV/AIDS Information, Counseling & Testing, Violence Prevention, Teen Sexuality & Relationships, Self-Esteem Building and Youth Advocacy.  Street Outreach is conducted to distribute literature and barrier protection methods to community adolescent residents.

Technical Assistance Project

AEP/THEO staff and Peer Educators provide technical assistance training for community organizations implementing new peer education programs.  Technical assistance training consists of ten workshops: Orientation and Guidelines, AIDS 101, Basic Anatomy, Adolescent Sexuality, STIs and Birth Control, Safer Sex and Condoms, Substance Abuse, Homophobia and Sensitivity, Public Speaking and Presentation Skills.

BATES (Brooklyn Association of Teen Educators) & BASNAP (Brooklyn Adolescent Service Providers Network for AIDS)

The BATES and BASNAP networks were established to encourage service providers and peer education groups in Brooklyn to work together on community projects that serve at-risk youth.  BATES sponsors an annual conference for youth to empower teens to work towards positive goals in their lives. BASNAP sponsors an annual conference for professionals working with at-risk youth borough wide.  The conferences are held each year at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.


THEO is available to do presentations at schools, churches, colleges and community programs which serve adolescents. The AEP also provides presentations by professionals to speak to adolescent groups and acts as a resource to health care professionals interested in HIV prevention.  For more information, contact Christine Rucker, MA, Director, Adolescent Education Program, at 718.270.3203.