The YEAH! Network uses research, advocacy, and community education and collaboration to influence policy and practice in adolescent sexual health. By articulating a common agenda among diverse local, state, and national stakeholders, we are working to create an informed, empowered, and engaged response to teen pregnancy and sexual health disparities in Hampden County.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Holyoke Youth Rising!

~Nothing About Us, Without Us~  

Today the YEAH Network Adolescent Advisory Board (AAB) and Ambassadors from Girls Inc. met with Mayor Elaine Pluta in the City Council Chambers.  They discussed their concerns about teen sexual health, presented the most recent data and shared what they felt contributed most to the high rates of teen birth and sexually transmitted diseases in the community. 

Key Issues identified by the teens:
  • The poor self image of some young girls in Holyoke due to the perception that Holyoke girls "just get pregnant."
  • Incomplete or poorly taught sex education in the public schools
  • The need for sex education at the middle school level in order to prevent unhealthy sexual  health behaviors

The teens made recommendations that included: 

  • Better sex education 
  • Involving teens in the process of implementing changes 
  •  A “big one:" getting parents to talk to teens about sexual health issues 
  • Increased access to work opportunities for teens in order to keep teens engaged in positive work 
  • Working on these issues at a faster pace, especially since the high rates of teen birth and sexually transmitted infection has been a chronic problem in the community.

The teens specifically asked Mayor Pluta how they can help implement the recommendations of the Redevelopment Committee of the City Council that focus on reducing the high rates of teen birth and sexually transmitted infections in Holyoke.

It was amazing to see the leadership and confidence of these young women and men!  The meeting ended with a discussion about specific steps that the teens can take in the next few weeks to be part of Holyoke’s plan to improve the sexual health of teens. 
Next steps:
1. The YEAH Network Adolescent Advisory Board, under the direction of Teresa Vazquez, will be hosting a table at the Holyoke Health Center on Friday afternoon to collect signatures from Holyoke residents supporting comprehensive science based sexual health education.

2.  Members of the Adolescent Advisory Board will attend the School Committee meeting on Monday, March 15th to support  the approval of the sex ed curriculum.

Girls Inc. Ambassadors with Mayor Pluta

 AAB members with Mayor Pluta

Strong work, teens!

No comments:

Post a Comment