Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area (LSSNCA) knows the journey to adulthood is always complex. Since 1999, we have supported youth living with social HIV/AIDS stigma, providing a confidential supportive environment where youth share new experiences, find comfort and hope, and grow past challenges through peer and mentor support. Our educational programs and youth retreats have grown to include all local youth who are living and lived adverse childhood experiences – whether medical, psychological or socioeconomical, and are held in partnership with local schools, health institutions like Johns Hopkins Hospital, and foundations. Currently, our programs include Youth Haven and Healthy Relationship Education.
“Be Well” Retreats
The annual three-day immersive experience provides teens and young adults health education, a safe space to share personal challenges and concerns, and encouragement to seek the treatment or help they may need. In a fun environment participants develop leadership skills, learn healthy habits for the mind and body, and create life-long bonds. Retreats focus on topics such as: Accepting Your Diagnosis; The 411 of Medication; Triggers and Trauma; Healthy Coping Strategies and Self-Care; Disclosure Strategies.
The first and only program of its kind at the time, Youth Haven Kids Camp launched in 1999 offering a summer camp for children living with HIV/AIDS. The camp continues to this day, offering a safe environment, peer support, and wellness training every summer for both youth impacted by stigma-related health conditions and those living in underserved communities seeking a fun and immersive summer experience.
HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP EDUCATION
With a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration for Children and Families, LSSNCA teaches relationship skills to high school students in Washington D.C. and Prince George's County, Maryland. We use social and emotional learning (SEL) models and evidence-based methods to inform our work. Through our Love Notes (high school) and Relationship Smarts (middle school) curriculums, we seek to empower students to make healthy decisions about dating and romantic relationships while providing tools and resources to avoid and prevent pregnancy, STIs and engaging in other risk behaviors.