To the Editor:
At the beginning of the Virginia General Assembly session earlier this month, Gov. Bob McDonnell unveiled his proposed $85 billion budget for the next two fiscal years. Buried way down in the massive document is a cut of $455,000 for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative which serves seven Virginia communities, including Alexandria. This funding is crucial to the success of the City's Teen Wellness Center, which is an integral part of the Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy (ACAP).
ACAP collaborates with other City agencies and organizations to reach out to our youth and their parents to encourage better communication, community involvement and greater understanding of pregnancy and other health issues. ACAP strives to help young people see the possibilities in their lives if they avoid pregnancy and fatherhood while they are teens.
From 2001 through 2009, teen pregnancies in Alexandria dropped from 56.4 per 1,000 females aged 10 to 19 to 47.3 — a decrease of 16 percent. Preliminary figures for 2010 indicate that the rate has dropped to 41.6 pregnancies per 1,000 females in that age group, which would be a drop of 32 percent over the 10-year period. We are concerned that this potential loss of funding will hamper efforts to continue to lower the teen pregnancy rate.
While the members of Alexandria's Legislative Delegation are requesting that the funding be restored, the Friends of the Alexandria Commission for Women are taking action to support ACAP by sponsoring a benefit performance of "Josephine Tonight" at MetroStage on Thursday, Feb. 9. This musical biography of show business legend Josephine Baker is being directed and choreographed by Maurice Hines. "We hope to raise awareness of the positive results that ACAP is producing and to provide needed funding for the program," explained Mary Catherine Gibbs, president of the Friends.
A reception at 6:30 p.m. will precede the performance, which will be at 7:30 p.m. The intermission will feature a live auction. Tickets are $75 each, of which $40 is tax deductible. Contact Diane Crawford-Batt at FriendsofAlexWomen@gmail.com to make reservations. MetroStage is located at 1201 North Royal St.
Alexandria Commission for women