FULTON, NY – For the past two years Oswego County Opportunities Crisis and Development Services’ Health Education Teen Pregnancy Prevention Project has been focused on reducing teen pregnancy rates in Oswego County.
Through partnerships with the Fulton, APW, and Mexico school districts and a grant from the U.S Department of Health & Human Services Office of Adolescent Health, OCO health educators and peer educators have been addressing teen pregnancy prevention and other sexual health related issues.
“Our health educators are working side by side with high school and middle school teachers as students are presented an evidenced based curriculum that meets New York State approved requirements,” explained OCO Health Education Services Coordinator Ellen Lazarek. “Each of our partnering school districts have the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program offered in three settings; middle school, high school, and after school community setting such as drop-in centers. Having school district employees involved and engaging teachers to work in conjunction with OCO health educators is proving to have a significant impact on the students. In addition to working with school staff we are also working closely with Cornell University to analyze data and determine the success and reach of the program.”
“The structure of our new Teen Pregnancy Prevention Project is exciting. Having school district employees involved and engaging teachers to work in conjunction with OCO health educators will reach more youth and helps ensure the sustainability of the program. With the teachers trained and comfortable with the program the potential is there for the Teen Pregnancy Project’s strategies to carry on for years to come,” added Lazarek.
Lazarek said that feedback from teachers and health educators combined with service providers and community members is paramount to the effectiveness of the program.
To ensure that the program focuses on establishing and implementing initiatives that promote the prevention of teen pregnancy and increasing adolescent sexual health there are youth and adult advisory councils that are charged to helping to develop and deliver to the community the program’s mission and strategy for reducing teen pregnancy in Oswego County.
The program is currently recruiting individuals interested in serving on the councils.
“Serving on an advisory council is excellent way to better one’s community by being actively involved in the health and well-being of our youth,” said Lazarek. “The Community Advisory Council is open to all and is made up of a cross section of community providers, faith community leaders, educators, parents and others concerned about the overall health of youth in our communities. The Youth Advisory Council is open to youth ages 14 through 19 that live in or attend school in the APW, Fulton, or Mexico school districts.”
Lazarek said that the youth councils meet monthly in their respective community.
The Community Advisory Council members provide direction and oversight of the teen pregnancy prevention project, as well as other OCO Health Education projects focused on reproductive health, and are involved with developing strategies that help to decrease teen pregnancy, STDs, and HIV.
The Youth Advisory Council focuses on teen pregnancy prevention, decreasing the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, and increasing youth involvement.
Members receive training in community evaluation and mapping, identifying needs and how to respond, trauma informed care, youth development and leadership training.
“The input we receive from our advisory councils is not limited to sexual reproductive health. Insight on helping youth in general by identifying and creating solutions for needs that exist in the community; building relationships and collaborations with other groups and organizations throughout Oswego County and surrounding counties; along with outreach and the best ways to disseminate information is always welcome. The direction provided us by our councils is instrumental in moving the program forward,”she said.
“Becoming a member of our Community Advisory Council or our Youth Advisory Council is ideal for those interested in increasing the health and wellness of youth in Oswego County, by decreasing teen pregnancy, the risks for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV, and increasing the number of youth accessing health care and other services. I encourage those interested to contact me at [email protected] or 315-342-7532, learn more about becoming a member of our advisory councils, and join us in our mission to reduce teen pregnancy in Oswego County,” added Lazarek.