Coalition receives PREP grant to expand Teen Health Project

The Healthy Start Coalition received funding to expand the 4Me Teen Health Project in Northeast Florida. The three-year funding is through the teen pregnancy prevention-focused Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Administration for Children and Families.

The Coalition and its community partners will implement the Teen Health Project for teenagers ages 12-18 in Duval, Nassau and St. Johns counties to reduce the rates of teen births and sexually transmitted infections. The teen birth rate in the region exceeds that of the state and nation, despite declines over the past 20 years. In addition, nearly one in five teenagers in Northeast Florida who has a baby will become pregnant again before leaving her teens. Bacterial STI rates among teens in the region are 25-35 percent higher than state rates; Jacksonville has one of the highest HIV/AIDS rates in the state which disproportionately impact low-income, minority youth. Nearly half of teens in the state are sexually active, but many are not receiving sex education.

The Coalition will partner with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida, the Jacksonville Housing Authority, WRH Realty Services, the Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network (JASMYN), the Bridge of Northeast Florida and the Nassau County Health Department to reach a variety of urban and suburban low-income and disadvantaged teens with teen pregnancy and STI prevention information. Staff training will be provided through the Jacksonville Children’s Commission. The Northeast Florida Center for Community Initiatives at the University of North Florida will serve as local project evaluator.

Participants will take part in the three components of the Teen Health Project: a comprehensive sex education series for teens; parent workshops; and teen leadership councils. Participants will also receive additional referral services to address health and socioeconomic factors impacting their families. A text messaging site will be created to provide easily accessible information to teens. The teens that participate will show increased knowledge and self-efficacy regarding abstinence, safe sex and developing a life plan. Parents will show increased knowledge of STIs, HIV, contraception and improved confidence in their ability to communicate about sex with their children.

Program staff and partners will be trained and implement new strategies in their practice to address positive youth development; Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE); lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) sensitivity; and anti-bullying.

The Teen Health Project was a priority implementation strategy identified in the comprehensive community action plan by the NEFL Teen Pregnancy Task Force. The program was successfully piloted in Jacksonville between November 2011 and June 2012.