Watch the full News Conference HERE.

September 9, 2019 - In an effort to improve the physical, social and emotional health outcomes for youth living in Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Peekskill, White Plains and Yonkers, County Executive George Latimer joined with Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, local mayors and other key stakeholders, to announce $225,000 in funding to expand the Westchester County Youth Bureau (WCYB) Sexual Risk Avoidance Education Program (SRAEP). SRAEP is designed to reduce risky behaviors such as engaging in harmful relationships, alcohol, tobacco and drug use, as well as unsafe sexual practices that may be prevalent among teens.

Latimer said: “Very simply, New York State has changed its whole attitude in supporting local efforts under the new leadership of Andrea Stewart-Cousins in the state senate. What we’re here today to celebrate is an allocation of money through the state government, a total of $225,000, that will be channeled through the Westchester County Youth Bureau bound for our five urban cities where the pressures on the youth of today are very much at hand. To be able to target money where it is most needed is really essential. Not just to target money for the sake of spending money, but for programs that we think will help youth with at-risk behaviors get in the best positive light, and the best positive path going forward.” 

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said: “When we talk about government, who government is supposed to work for and what government is supposed to do, we understand that we have to make sure we are taking care of our most vulnerable populations. We’ve got to look at our youth, and we’ve got to make sure that not only their lives are better now, but that we’re preparing them for the future. And I think we can all agree that their education is essential, and that is what this grant is all about.”

The SRAEP Program was scheduled to close after being funded for only one year through a competitive federal grant, however the Westchester County Youth Bureaus and its partners sought opportunities through New York State government to maintain and now, expand the program to serve 200 youth annually. The WCYB will partner with the Mount Vernon Youth Bureau, the Nepperhan Community Center in Yonkers, the New Rochelle Youth Bureau, the Peekskill Youth Bureau and the White Plains Youth Bureau to operate its SRAEP in each of the targeted cities, which will ultimately increase the likelihood of those youth achieving safe, healthy lifestyles.

Director of the Westchester County Youth Bureau Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden said: “We thank the Senate Majority Leader and her colleagues for supporting our efforts to reduce health risk behaviors amongst youth, and in particular provide financial resources to Westchester County’s high need communities. By targeting the communities of Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Peekskill, White Plains and Yonkers, each Youth Bureau and the Nepperhan Community Center will contribute to the state and County-wide efforts of reducing wide racial, ethnic, economic and geographic disparities and promoting health equity across vulnerable populations.”

State Senator Shelley Mayer: “There is something very special when you have the opportunity to be able to have an effect on a young person’s life. It is, for the giver as well as the receiver, a transformative moment. I am so proud to be a part of a Senate that is fighting for every young person in New York State. It is our mission and it is what we are here to do.”

State Senator Peter Harckham said: “I've always been supportive of the great work done by the Westchester County Youth Bureau and we're deeply appreciative of the funding. We thank Leader Senator Stewart-Cousins for always thinking of the young people in our County and always looking out for their best interests." 

State Senator Alessandra Biaggi said: "The $225,000 in state funding to expand the Westchester County Youth Bureau (WCYB) Sexual Risk Avoidance Education Program (SRAEP) is a major investment into the health and safety of our youth. It is really important that teens can access quality support and resources when it comes to making healthy decisions about sex and substances, and know that they don't have to navigate the all challenges of adolescence on their own. I thank Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, Westchester County Executive George Latimer, and Westchester Youth Commissioner Dr. DaMia Harris Madden for their commitment to supporting our next generation of leaders."

Mount Vernon Mayor Andre Wallace said: “We need to make sure that we are doing everything we can to give our children the tools they need to succeed. Our children are tomorrow. Those are the ones who are going to stand on our shoulders as we stand on the shoulders of the ones who came before us. So it important that we keep our shoulders broad, and strong.”

New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson said: “We all have a stake in young people making good choices. Our communities are only going to achieve their full potential when all of the young people within them have the opportunity to be their best. I don’t view this as resources simply directed to one vulnerable subset, I think of this as an investment in the lives of our communities that we share together.”