By Marissa Thompson
The Teen Pregnancy and STI Prevention Program is almost over, and we wanted to share some of our highlights throughout the last year. We are honored to have served our communities for five years and to have provided a comprehensive approach to sexual and reproductive health, relationships, and communication/negotiation techniques. Our partners have allowed us to bring our fun, engaging, and informative facilitation skills to their classrooms for years and we would like to thank them deeply for remaining supportive in our mission, “To reduce teen pregnancy and STI rates and to support youth in making more informed decisions about their health”. We’ve served thousands of youth and will continue to advocate for youth empowerment and autonomy.
This year, in partnership with middle school youth, we were able to establish a youth leadership group. The Springwood Middle School's Youth Advisory Council (YAC) works together to identify and address relevant issues in their school and community. Utilizing leadership and teamwork skills, the YAC works to bring awareness to topics such as mental health and related stigmas. The students in the YAC foster opportunities to deepen connectedness to their peers and their community. Started in November of 2019, the first meeting consisted of only three students and two facilitators. What the group lacked in numbers, they made up with enthusiasm and dedication. The facilitators wanted the YAC to be student led, with a heavy emphasis on projects they cared about. “Mind Mapping” activities were created for the students to identify pertinent issues they saw in their school and their community. One project that stands out was the student’s awareness campaign for mental health and related stigmas. The students all shared their experiences regarding mental health from their own perspectives and from the perspective of the people close to them. Together, the group decided they wanted to run a mental health awareness campaign that would discuss common mental health disorders and how related stigma could affect a person from getting help or seeking treatment. The YAC spent a few weeks detailing the content of the posters and decided how they were going to distribute them in the school. Twenty-five posters were put up in Springwood Middle School highlighting different mental health issues as well as places to seek support. The YAC expressed great dedication to this project since the topic affected each student in some way. The goal of the YAC was to create a safe and empowering space for young people to have open conversations about issues in their school and community. At the time of school closure due to COVID-19, the group had five consistent members and were excited to begin their next project. The staff are hopeful to return when guidelines permit and engage with students again next year.
Our grant-long partners at Bartlett High School, Spring Wood Middle School, and Tefft Middle School are very supportive in the advocacy and educational components we provide throughout our program for youth in our community. This year, at Bartlett High School, the curriculum Making Proud Choices was presented to approximately 300 high school students over a two week period. Here, students learned about the importance of birth control, condoms and STI-testing as part of a healthy sexual lifestyle. Also discussed were topics of abstinence, consent and healthy relationships. Springwood Middle School and Tefft Middle School both implemented Making A Difference to a combined population of approximately 220 students. Similar to the high school curriculum, the Making a Difference curriculum focused on topics such as self-esteem, healthy relationships, abstinence and possible outcomes of having unprotected sex such as STIs and unintended pregnancy. In addition, the TPP team created weekly social media content highlighting subjects that related to both curricula. Due to school closures and the start of COVID-19, the TPP team was only able to share information regarding safer-sex practices through newsletters and booklets distributed to the community. Although the TPP grant is coming to a close, the TPP team looks forward to serving the community and empowering individuals through education for years to come.
Learn More about the Teen Pregnancy and Prevention Services at CPYD.