Non-traditional Program Seeks to Build Healthy Teens by Addressing Root Causes of Teen Pregnancy
Myriam Hernandez Jennings, MATP, firstname.lastname@example.org, 617-482-9122 x114,
Kate Reilly, City of Lawrence, Mayor’s Office, email@example.com, 978.620.2013
Vilma Lora, City of Lawrence, Mayor’s Health Task Force, firstname.lastname@example.org, 978.620.3526
Boston (October 20, 2015) – The Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy (the Alliance) is the only organization in Massachusetts and 1 of 2 organizations in New England to receive a prestigious 5-year grant from the federal Office of Adolescent Health. The grant is for $750,000 per year over five years, and is part of the federal government’s goal to replicate evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs in communities with the greatest need.
The Alliance, in conjunction with the Lawrence Coalition on Teen Pregnancy and the City of Lawrence Mayor’s Health Task Force, have worked relentlessly to make this grant opportunity a reality. The Alliance has successfully implemented teen pregnancy prevention efforts in Western Massachusetts with the Youth First program, a five-year project funded by the Centers for Disease Control, resulting in significant reduction of teen pregnancies in Holyoke and Springfield. The driving goal for the grant partnership in Lawrence is to build healthy teens by bolstering referral links in the community, increasing access to sexuality education, developing communication and leadership skills and by addressing the root causes of teen pregnancy.
The Alliance will work closely with three partners in Lawrence to select, pilot, and then fully implement an evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention program. These partners are the Greater Lawrence Technical High School, Family Development Charter School, and Family Services of the Merrimack Valley. There will also be a Community Advisory Group with members that represent the full spectrum of services that support the young people of Lawrence.
“The Lawrence community cares for its youth. We are proud to be part of the efforts of our community partners engaged through this grant to not only reduce teen pregnancy by implementing evidence-based programs, but also through creating linkages among partner organizations to help change the social conditions that influence youth’s health choices,” said Myriam Hernandez Jennings, executive director of the Alliance.
“Despite significant drops in teen pregnancy at the national, state and local levels, Lawrence continues to rank among the top 10 in the state for teen pregnancy,” said Vilma Lora, Coordinator of the City of Lawrence Mayor’s Health Task Force (MHTF). “Teen pregnancy often contributes to high school drop-out among girls, leading to other socioeconomic and systemic factors, such as poverty. The MHTF understands the importance of coordinated, comprehensive and collaborative efforts to promote the health and wellbeing of our youth. This grant partnership will allow us to address the issue of planned and unplanned pregnancies among teens, using proven practices that best fit the need of our community.”
“With Lawrence being the youngest community in the commonwealth, it is imperative that we invest in our youth and provide them with available information and resources to make well-informed choices,” said Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera. “With the support of the Alliance, the MHTF, and community partners, we hope to create a community wide response that helps to facilitate access to these resources and health care, as needed, and ultimately Make Lawrence Better!”
The Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy is the only organization in Massachusetts dedicated to ensuring that state policies and local programs effectively address the complex issues associated with teen pregnancy. The Alliance advocates statewide and mobilizes communities to prevent teen pregnancy, to increase opportunities for youth and young parents, and to empower young people to make healthy decisions about relationships, sex, parenting, and life. For more information about the Alliance, visit www.massteenpregnancy.org.