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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
May 12, 2006

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Marilyn Riley
(609) 984-7160


 
"Children of Children: Portraits and Stories of Teenage Parents" Opens in Hamilton Township May 16


 

NOTE: Revised to include street address and corrected name of the Robert Wood Johnson Hamilton Center for Health and Wellness.

 

TRENTON -- About 2,000 New Jersey middle- and high-school students are expected to visit “Children of Children:  Portraits and Stories of Teenage Parents,” a powerful exhibit exploring the impact teenage pregnancy has on families and communities.  The public also is invited to view the exhibit, which runs from May 16 to 26 in Hamilton Township.

Created by internationally known photographer Michael Nye, the exhibit features 50 black-and-white portraits of teen parents and former teen parents – ranging in age from 12 to 100 -- along with compelling audio stories describing how their lives have been profoundly affected by early parenthood.

 The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and the Governor’s Advisory Council for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention are sponsoring the exhibit at the Robert Wood Johnson Hamilton Center for Health and Wellness, 3100 Quakerbridge Road, Mercerville.  The exhibit has traveled to more than 50 cities nationwide.

“This exhibit gives parents a wonderful opening to have crucial health conversations with their children.  I know it’s not always easy to raise reproductive health issues,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.  “But the honest and very touching stories in this exhibit offer parents many concrete ways to get the discussion going.”

“The exhibit is only here two weeks.  We strongly encourage parents to find time to visit with their teens and pre-teens to take advantage of an excellent learning opportunity,” said Kathleen Roe, chair of the Governor’s Advisory Council and executive director of Parents Anonymous of New Jersey.  “We’re pleased with the especially strong response we’ve gotten from the schools, because it shows that educators see how the exhibit can complement their work in the classroom.”

Much of the power of the exhibit lies in its non-judgmental approach.  As artist Michael Nye has stated:  “The project’s intention is not to condemn, condone or romanticize teenage pregnancy in any way, but to learn and to explore the reality of young pregnancy and parenting in our society.” 

Teen birth rates have been declining both in the nation and in New Jersey.  However, the U. S. teen birth rate is significantly higher than the birth rates in other developed countries.  In New Jersey, there are more than 7,000 births to teens each year.

Teen childbearing has been linked to a range of health and social issues.

“The children of adolescents are more likely to be born prematurely or to be low birth-weight, and to have health problems in childhood.  They are also more likely to be abused and neglected and to do poorly in school,” said Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, DHSS State Epidemiologist and Deputy Commissioner.  “Life is also more difficult for teen mothers.  They spend more time as single parents than do older mothers, are less likely to finish high school and go on to college, and are more likely to rely on public assistance and work in low-paying jobs.”

School groups from about 50 New Jersey schools are scheduled to view the exhibit.  School tours are by reservation weekdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  The exhibit is open to the public from 4 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday throughout the exhibit and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 20.  Admission is free.

School groups may register by visiting www.cnjmchc.org.  For further information, contact Fran LoRaso, at the Central New Jersey Maternal and Child Health Consortium, 732-937-5437, floraso@cnjmchc.org.

On May 15, there will be a portrait unveiling for state legislators, current and former members of the Governor’s Advisory Council, and representatives of organizations concerned with child health and teen pregnancy.  The unveiling will be held at 5 p.m. at the RWJ-Hamilton Center for Health and Wellness.  The press is invited to attend.

The Governor’s Advisory Council for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention was created in 1997 as part of a larger legislative effort to develop a prevention and education outreach strategy for adolescents.  The Council’s purpose is to coordinate and improve the services of state and local government, private and volunteer agencies, community organizations, and schools that serve pregnant and high-risk adolescents, adolescent parents, and their families.

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