Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXI, No. 45
 
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
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Gov. Corzine Picked to Receive HiTOPS Policy Guardian Award

Linda Arntzenius

Governor Jon Corzine was tapped Tuesday, November 6, to receive the HiTOPS’ 2008 Policy Guardian Award.

The announcement was made at the HiTOPS Guardian Award Gala Kick-Off at the facility on Wiggins Street.

The Governor will receive the award at the annual HiTOPS Gala next April.

“We are thrilled to honor Governor Corzine because he has been a true supporter of our youth by sponsoring and supporting various provisions related to reproductive health care, and GLBTQI equality and education,” said HiTOPS Board Member and Guardian Award Gala Co-Chair Molly Vernon. “Governor Corzine clearly shares the HiTOPS vision of a world where youth have the resources they need to live healthy, responsible lives.”

For the last six years, the Princeton youth health and wellness center has honored two individuals who have contributed significantly to the vision and growth of the organization that was founded by registered nurse Bonnie Parker.

Ms. Parker — one of a group of women who established Princeton’s Familyborn birthing center in 1978 before going on to found HiTOPS (Health-Interested Teens’ Own Program on Sexuality) in 1987 — received the 2007 Guardian Award.

In addition to Gov. Corzine’s 2008 award, it was also announced yesterday that Jim Craigie, chairman and chief executive officer of Church & Dwight, will receive the HiTOPS’ 2008 Corporate Guardian Award.

Mr. Craigie works to find ways of reducing the number of individuals with incurable STI (sexually transmitted infection) — some 65 million according to HiTOPS — as well as ways to help curb unwanted pregnancies. “Jim is a man with a mission and  is open to many diverse voices in search of a solution to a common cause,” said HiTOPS Executive Director Lori Heninger. “Locally, Church & Dwight has been a dear friend to HiTOPS for years.”

This year, the organization added two new awards to its roster.

The HiTOPS’ 2008 Service-to-Youth Guardian Award recipient is Chris Floor, a guidance counselor at Princeton High School. Megan Thompson will receive the HiTOPS 2008 Youth Guardian Award.

Mr. Floor became interested in youth work when he was attending the Princeton Theological Seminary. He saw a HiTOPS Teen council presentation on HIV/AIDS and was so impressed that he subsequently became HiTOPS’ first male sexual health educator.

After 10 years working with the HITOPS Teen Council, he was inspired to pursue a master’s in counseling at the College of New Jersey. He works with over 260 students at the high school, providing individual and group counseling on a variety of issues affecting adolescents in the Princeton community.

Ms. Thompson’s affiliation with HiTOPS began after she was raped. She became an activist against sexual violence in 2000, after pressing charges against her attacker, who was found guilty and sent to a juvenile facility, but only after over a year of police statements and court dates. 

Through HiTOPS’ sexual assault support group (SASS), Ms. Thompson was able to share her story with others and to encourage and support other survivors to take similar steps towards empowerment.

In 2005, she took part in the HiTOPS’ educational video, One Day in October, where she told her story publicly for the first time and spoke about the important role that pressing charges played in her survival.

Teen Health

Now celebrating two decades as Princeton’s place for teen health, HiTOPS provides direct health care services to the youth of Mercer County, and runs health education programs throughout the state. The facility serves more than 10,000 young adults between the ages of 12 and 27(adolescents as defined by the National College of Pediatrics) each year.

“HiTOPS is the only such resource for adolescent health in the entire state of New Jersey,” said Ms. Heninger. “At HiTOPS we believe in informing kids so that they can begin to make good decisions about their own lives. We honor the fact that they can make good decisions.”

The center’s services include smoking cessation counseling and treatment, gynecological exams, HIV testing and counseling, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, contraception and emergency contraception, pregnancy testing and options counseling, as well as general and sports physicals. Clinical services are provided by certified nurse practitioners. The agency’s outreach programs have become models across the state of New Jersey.

Funding for HiTOPS comes from multiple sources, individual contributions from members of the community, private foundations, corporations and state government.

HiTOPS Gala

HiTOPS’ Seventh Annual Guardian Award Gala will be held on Friday, April 11, at the Trenton Country Club in West Trenton.

“HiTOPS will celebrate 21 years of working with adolescents by helping teens make healthy, responsible, and respectful choices which lead to brighter futures,” said Ms.Vernon. “The Guardian Awards this year, will honor four tremendous people alongside the wonderful organization HiTOPS, which deserves to be celebrated for its work as well.”

For more information on sponsorship opportunities, tickets to the Gala, or to learn more about HiTOPS, please contact HiTOPS (609) 683-5155, extension 216, or email Julie@HiTOPS.org.

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