Community joins conversation on adolescent sexual health

IMG_5636From providing youth life skills and cultural development to working with young men to sex education in the schools, more than 30 community members shared ideas and had an open discussion on how to prevent teen pregnancy and improve adolescent health.

The NEFL Teen Pregnancy Task Force hosted “Undercurrents: A conversation on Adolescent Sexual Health” on May 18. The event was organized by the Task Force’s Public Policy Committee and brought together a diverse group of community members and partners to learn how to leverage the work that’s already been done to build a brighter, healthier future for youth.

The Task Force, a collaboration of community organizations and systems, has been working to improve teen health outcomes since 2010. After reconvening follow a several-year hiatus, the group recently released the May 2015 update to “Preventing Teen Pregnancy in Northeast Florida: A plan for community action” which includes additional strategies to fill gaps in services and address specific at-risk groups.

Using an interactive ice breaker, participants provided what they thought was the most important thing that could be done to impact teen pregnancy. Three main themes emerged among the ideas: male responsibility, access to sex education and life skills development.

Apryl Shackelford, the 2013 Duval County Teacher of the Year and a Coalition member, shared her personal story of triumph over multiple teen pregnancies and dropping out of school before participants broke up into the three groups based on their interest. Each sub-group brainstormed ideas on what to implement, what the barriers may be, why the themes were important and more and then presented their results to the entire group.

The input from the event will guide the Task Force as it develops its next steps, particularly around public policy.