“Engaging with culture means dialogue, working with channels of communication that are favored and valued within a community…” – Ariel Rojas | TDN President/CEO/Founder

Combining educational, recreational and therapeutic elements, our programs’ PRE-primary prevention curriculum brings innovation to the traditional public healthcare approach by bridging the wellness gap among youth of low-income and immigrant backgrounds, incorporating the community’s cultural values, and creating a sense of ownership over their own health, which they need to sustain the development of their local communities and to compete fairly in today’s interdependent world. By deconstructing the concept of prevention, our award-winning curriculum integrates three modules: dance mediation, storytelling dynamics and social photography. This holistic approach helps us to identify cultural antibodies* and allows young participants to assess risks and opportunities, improve their civic engagement and leadership skills, and organically prop up their vision of a future linked to empowering social milieus. Our constituencies are adolescents and young adults exercising their human rights while negotiating how their cultural heritage and family traditions interplay with the realities of peer pressure, academic stress and sexually-transmitted diseases, especially HIV, in environments not always conducive to communication and open dialogue.

TDN believes that promoting health among youth goes beyond their physical well-being. As our 15-year-old program participant Nicole Cheng reflects:

“The most effective way of dealing with such issues is education. People must be taught about HIV/AIDS and be aware of the risks. However, what is different about TDN is that we do not merely focus on the science of HIV/AIDS – we deal with it from the primitive level, which involves human expression and the internalization of how to prevent HIV/AIDS. Through the arts, I have watched my peers open up and thus, understand the drastically different states of mind that they have to address when met by a decision. In order for the youth to make the right decision, they must understand themselves and know what the consequences of their actions are.” [1]

In order to explain how, it is needed first to briefly explain the three primary methods of preventative medicine: primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention. Primary prevention uses methods to avoid the occurrence of disease (e.g., condom use in HIV prevention). Secondary prevention uses methods to diagnose and treat existent disease in early stages before it causes significant morbidity (e.g., to prevent an HIV patient from developing AIDS). Tertiary prevention uses methods to reduce the negative impact of existent disease by restoring function and reducing disease-related complications (e.g., providing antibiotic prophylaxis in HIV patients that have already developed AIDS). TDN takes an even earlier approach; it works in the stages of “PRE-primary prevention.” It changes program participants’ way of thinking and behavior which in turn teaches them prevention. It empowers them to make informed health-related decisions.

We also promote treatment as prevention by providing PrEP/PEP counseling and testing in partnership with NYC Department of Health and local community-oriented clinical facilities.



* term coined by TDN Founder Ariel Rojas

[1] TDN Community Blog reflection ‘Breaking Our Own Barriers’, April 10, 2015

Disclaimer: The RIPPLE Program and the Cross-cultural Youth Exchange Fellowship are trademarks of Transdiapora Network, Inc. They are protected by U.S. Copyright Laws and are not to be downloaded or reproduced in any way without the written permission of Transdiaspora Network, Inc. Copyright 2011 Transdiaspora Network, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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