Times-Picayune (New Orleans) (05.18.12)
The Louisiana Teen Pregnancy Prevention Collaborative, a coalition of statewide government and nonprofit agencies, used $30 million in US Department of Health and Human Services grants to develop several new programs. The grants were awarded in 2010; the collaborative aims to reach 20,000 youths by 2015.
Federal statistics show Louisiana has the 18th highest US teen pregnancy rate and ranks 13th-highest for teen birth rates. Additional statistics indicate that New Orleans children are twice as likely as typical American youths to make their sexual debut before age 13.
The funded programs include:
* Louisiana Public Health Institute's "4Real Health" and "Staying Mature and Responsible Toward Sex" (SMARTS) program. 4Real Health focuses on comprehensive health education for New Orleans girls ages 14-18, encompassing pregnancy and STD prevention, healthy eating and exercise. SMARTS assists teens ages 14-19 already seeking treatment; its goal is to help upwards of 200 women annually.
*The "Teen Outreach Program" (TOP) provides nine-month educational intervention sessions to groups of 12- to 17-year-old girls in seven parishes with the highest teen birth rates. More than 1,000 participants had enrolled by April.
*"Making Proud Choices NOLA," sponsored by the Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies (IWES), aims to help 2,500 youths ages 11-13 by focusing on mental health and providing male role models to combat teen pregnancy. IWES will work with schools, churches, other youth organizations and the New Orleans Recreation Department Commission to implement the program this summer; more than 300 are currently registered.
*"e-SiHLE" is Tulane University's online program teaching pregnancy prevention and nutrition to 18- to 19-year-old African Americans in New Orleans.
The collaborative recently hosted two public events as part of National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month.