Simone Ippoliti serves as a pediatric nurse practitioner at Bayview Child Health Center (BCHC) in San Francisco. For the past three years, she has provided primary care services with a trauma-informed lens to the children and families of Bayview-Hunters Point, a vibrant community of predominantly underserved African-American and Latinx families.
Simone joined BCHC in 2016 after reading How Children Succeed by Paul Tough, who profiled BCHC and, then pediatrician, Dr. Nadine Burke-Harris' efforts to screen all children for childhood trauma. Tough's portrayal of the negative health effects of childhood trauma, often times referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), inspired Simone to move to San Francisco and join the movement to address ACEs. Simone and her team at BCHC screen all children for Adverse Childhood Experiences as part of their regular check up.
At the time of reading Tough's book, Simone was in her final year of graduate school at Yale School of Nursing studying pediatrics and global health and was just starting her own initiative targeting two specific social determinants of health—education level and poverty—and their impact on teen pregnancy. During this time, she learned that Nicaragua has the highest rate of both teen pregnancy and poverty in Latin America. This knowledge drove Simone to research whether empowerment-focused sex-education could decrease teen pregnancy rates in Nicaragua.
In 2015, she travelled to Troilo, a farming community in Nicaragua, and began her sex-ed intervention. She quickly realized that, instead of teaching sex-ed herself, the true mark of empowerment was training youth to lead the weekly sex-ed talks—locally referred to as charlas. Through this model, La Charla was born. In exchange for 2 years of service as La Charla leaders, students are matched with a US donor and provided full university scholarship. In 2018, La Charla received its 501c3 status. In the five years since founding the program, La Charla has graduated over 40 students and has not had any cases of teen pregnancy amongst their participants.
Simone plans to continue devoting her energy to the intersection of education, health and teen pregnancy, both in her exam rooms in Bayview-Hunters Point and Nicaragua.