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Preventing teen pregnancy

Teen group partners with Will County Health Department

Selina Jones is the founder and leader of the 40-plus girls who make up the Bolingbrook High School Junior S.T.A.R.S group, which stands for “strong, thriving, abundant girls who shine.”

Recently, S.T.A.R.S partnered with the Will County Health Department Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program TPP and now is also considered the Youth Leadership Council for the TPP program.

The WCHD – S.T.A.R.S partnership has led to new growth for the students and the TPP program.

David Campbell, Will County community health ducator, works with Selina Jones to lead the Youth Leadership Council.

During its first year, Campbell taught the teen pregnancy prevention curriculum to the group.

“David has awesome spirit,” Jones said in a news release from the Will County Health Department. “He’s a man, but communicates and relates so well to these young women, and really builds up their confidence.”

Manyah Chatman, a Bolingbrook High School senior and S.T.A.R.S. club officer, agreed with Jones and said “[Campbell] actually cares for us. As young women, it makes us want to do better. It helps make our paths to success smoother and easier.”

The WCHD – S.T.A.R.S partnership is engaging in more community-based activities, including having the group take a tour of the Will County Community Health Center’s Teen Clinic in Bolingbrook toward the end of the school year.

The students would learn about the teen clinic, including services, which include STD testing and treatment and access to various types of birth control methods.

In addition, they would evaluate the teen clinic to determine its level of adolescent friendliness: providing confidential services or having a welcoming, teen oriented waiting area.

These features increase the likeliness teens would use the services.

“Preventing teen pregnancy within a community can be complicated due to the multiple variables that make a teen at risk for teen pregnancy in the first place,” Campbell said in a the release from the heath department.

“Giving our youth a voice and hearing what they think and feel will go far in solving the problem. This collaboration between the S.T.A.R.S group and the TPP Youth Leadership Council will help prevent teen pregnancies and give youth the tools they need to becoming healthy and happy adults.”

A grant and a mission

In 2016, the Will County Health Department, through a five-year grant from the Illinois Department of Human Services, collaborated with the Valley View School District to address the higher than average teen birth rate and Sexually Transmitted Disease rate in Bolingbrook.

As a part of this grant, the Will County Health Department was required to develop a youth leadership group that would lend an important and critical youth voice towards initiatives to reduce teen pregnancies in Bolingbrook.

Jones, who already was a member of the Will County Health Department’s Bolingbrook Alliance for Teen Pregnancy Prevention leadership group, agreed to allow the Will County Health Department’s TPP program to adopt her S.T.A.R.S group as the Youth Leadership Council.

It was a natural partnership, as Jones’ group has been providing valuable input towards TPP efforts since 2017.

“With S.T.A.R.S, I’m able to help these young women prepare for their futures with input from numerous local agencies,” Jones explained. “This helps with leadership and empowerment as they move on and grow.”

For information on preventing teen pregnancy, visit www.willcountyheatlh.org.