Project Reality: A Collaborative Effort toward Teenage Pregnancy Prevention

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Collaborative effort among the community, public schools, and parents is used as a tool to prevent teenage pregnancy. Project Reality has been developed and reviewed by a local committee of parents, nurses, and related agency representatives to ensure accuracy and to maintain the local focus of the program. Implementation of an educational program designed to help young adolescents take control of their future by avoiding early sexual activity and childbearing has proven to be an effective means of achieving this goal.

Keywords: adolescence, prevention, pregnancy, collaboration, education

... Project Reality provides practice in making decisions, setting goals, building self-esteem, resisting peer-pressure, and communicating and taking risks in a safe environment that empowers adolescents to make decisions and be aware of the consequences of their actions.

BACKGROUND

Daily, a significant number of teenagers are putting themselves at risk of getting HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases, as well as the potential of becoming a teenage parent, by engaging in early adolescent sexual activity. Abstinence education was brought into the forefront on August 22, 1996, when Congress appropriated $50 million in the controversial Personal Responsibility and Welfare Reform Legislation (Public Law 104-93) for promoting abstinence education in each year from 1998 to 2002.

Implementation of a collaborative effort among community, schools, and parents is essential when designing an educational program to delay adolescent sexual activity. Preventive education cannot be facilitated without:

* Communication that there is a problem;

* Cooperation in planning and implementing a program; and

* Collaboration among different organizations to provide the services required to meet the needs of the adolescents. Working together and making fostering adolescents' life management skills a priority can have a significant impact on preventing teen pregnancy and its subsequent impact on adolescents and society.

OHIO STATE'S COLLABORATIVE EFFORT

Ohio State University Extension, Carroll County, has brought together key political and social decision makers in the community to collaborate on the prevention of risky youth behavior. Because prevention is the goal, adolescents in the 10 to 15-year-old age range are targeted through a schoolbased program, Project Reality. Project Reality has received funding for the past 3 years through a competitive grant process. A grant requirement is community collaboration. The granting agency has received letters of support and participation from all schools and collaborating agencies in the county. The grant is also reviewed semi-annually by a committee consisting of parents, nurses, a Family and Children First Coordinator, and an Alcohol, Drug, and Mental Health Director. As a result of the collaborative efforts, more than 70 % of the fifth through eighth graders in the county are participating in Project Reality.

GOAL IS PREVENTION

The goal of Project Reality is pregnancy prevention. To this end, Project Reality provides practice in making decisions, setting goals, building self-esteem, resisting peer-- pressure, and communicating and taking risks in a safe environment that empowers adolescents to make decisions and be aware of the consequences of their actions. Through these life management skills, adolescents are also given positive reassurance for reasons to delay sexual activity until they become self-sufficient.

Behaviors such as sexual intercourse have the risk of negative consequences. Students do not often identify themselves as risk takers and do not realize that some of the risks they take could potentially lead to sexual activity. By making students aware of the risks involved with sexual activity and the risks that could lead to the early onset of sexual activity, students will be empowered to avoid these situations and activities, which should help delay the onset of sexual activity. …