Background & History
To address this growing public health concern, dedicated adults and youth founded Youth Health Empowerment Project (Y-HEP). In 1994, Y-HEP began as a citywide pilot project to reduce the spread of HIV and STDs among adolescents and young adults in the Philadelphia area. Today Y-HEP is a vibrant, multi-faceted, community-based health and leadership development program for Philadelphia youth. Annually, Y-HEP serves over 8,000 high risk, hard to reach teens and young adults through a range of activities.
Empowerment Center is a safe non-judgmental space where youth and young adults can access prevention services and support, empowerment workshops, take showers, participate in activities like yoga, art, movies, take classes in dance and spoken-word, get food, tokens, clothes or just relax. Our team works intensively with the city’s hardest-to-reach youth to help them overcome the obstacles that affect their willingness and ability to access services. All Empowerment Center’s services are free.
Peer-Led Workshops: Y-HEP peer educators offer workshop sessions (single or in a series) on a range of topics including, but not limited to, deciding when to have sex, teens dating adults, condom negotiation, oppression, and sexual orientation. Workshops are designed to provide young people with the knowledge and skills to maintain their sexual health and think critically about their social choices. Sessions are conducted at community-based and social service organizations, right in Y-HEP’s Drop-in Center, and also in schools in underserved areas of the city.
Peer Education Academy (PEA): PEA enrolls youth ages 15-23 interested in learning about social and sexual health. Designed to support young people around issues concerning their own sexual health, truancy, peer pressure and violence, the curriculum offers 12 two-hour informational sessions that build upon the efficacy and education young people have around sexual and social health issues. After completion, students attend a graduation and commit to continue promoting their education in their communities and other non-profit organizations.
Outreach: Y-HEP peer outreach workers venture where other young people are—as they exit school, on their neighborhood streets, at recreation centers, in shopping areas, and at clubs—to get them the HIV/STD and pregnancy prevention information and safer sex tools they need.
Prevention Services and Support
STEPS: Provides youth-centered one-on-one counseling focusing on empowering youth to make healthier choices. Prevention services include: individual goal setting, harm reduction counseling, resources & referrals, identifying & addressing internal/external barriers.
Family Planning Clinic: A comprehensive on-site medical clinic where youth can access free or low-cost health services. Confidential and client centered family planning services include: STD testing, birth control and emergency contraception, physical exams and referrals, pregnancy testing and options counseling, pelvic and breast exams, PAP smears, safer sex information & materials.
Trauma Therapy Program: Offers youth the opportunity to participate in group or individual psychotherapy with experienced, licensed therapists. Y-HEP trauma therapists specialize in working with youth who have histories of childhood sexual, physical, or emotional abuse. Youth who are in need of a higher level of care or are in need of mediation treatment are referred to appropriate mental health agencies.
Rapid HIV Testing: Y-HEP provides on-site HIV testing in coordination with our Family Planning Clinic and Prevention Counseling program. We also provide HIV testing off-site in collaboration with local colleges and youth programs.
- Weekly Male Support Group
- Weekly Female Support Group
- Weekly Drug and Alcohol group
- Computers 101 and 201
- Blogging for Beginners
- Digital Storytelling
dance4life: This international youth health and empowerment program designed to teach students in countries around the world about HIV/STI risk and harm reduction through dance and global satellite connections
Y-HEP is a project of Philadelphia FIGHT, an agency offering a comprehensive range of health promotion programs, including access to quality HIV care, clinical research, and up-to-date HIV treatment and prevention information for low-income people. For more information about Y-HEP’s programs or to make a donation, please contact: