What is TORCH?

Teen Outreach Reproductive CHallenge, known as TORCH®, is a nationally recognized program that combines peer health education and leadership training for New York City youth, with a strong emphasis on empowerment and team building. Addressing the critical issues of reproductive health care through peer outreach and education, community organizing, and advocacy, TORCH Peer Leaders build their self esteem, develop leadership skills, and learn to make responsible choices. After a rigorous training program, TORCH Peer Leaders share their knowledge with other teens by facilitating workshops around New York City.

Our philosophy: The power of peer education

Here at TORCH, we believe that the best people to teach teens about sensitive topics and making healthy choices are often other trained teens. Research suggests that people are more likely to hear and personalize messages resulting in changing attitudes and behaviors if they believe the messenger is similar to them and faces the same concerns and pressures. Peer education draws on the credibility young people have with their peers, leverages the power of role modeling, and provides flexibility in meeting diverse needs for today’s youth.

History of TORCH

Since 1996, the TORCH program has been training high school students from the five boroughs of New York City as peer educators. Every year, extensive outreach to all New York City public and independent high schools results in approximately one hundred applications for the 15-20 positions as TORCH Peer Leaders. The TORCH program has been nationally recognized for years, and TORCH Peer Leaders have presented at such conferences as Medical Students for Choice, Healthy Teens Network, MOAPPP (now Teenwise Minnesota), SisterSong, Children’s Aid Society and more.

Adolescent Health Care Communication Program

In 2003, through our work with youth throughout New York City, TORCH realized that teens and health care providers don’t always speak the same language when it comes to sexual and reproductive health issues. In response, we developed the Adolescent Health Care Communication Program (AHCCP) to help providers and teens work together to break down this communication barrier and, as a result, improve the delivery of preventive and clinical services to adolescents. The National Institute for Reproductive Health launched the AHCCP Expansion Project in 2003 in order to export the good work TORCH does to communities across the country.

If you are a health care provider and want to receive an AHCCP workshop, please contact us at info@TORCHprogram.org.

Thanks to our supporters!

TORCH is a program of NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health. TORCH is funded through the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Special thanks for support of this program goes to the New York City Council.

For more information, email us at info@TORCHprogram.org or call 212-343-0114 ext. 3524 to speak to the TORCH staff.