Opinion

National Day in Federal Way | Sex in the Suburbs

Amy Johnson - Contributed
Amy Johnson
— image credit: Contributed

The National Day to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy is coming up on May 7.

Held the first Wednesday of each May, the event helps raise awareness and share information about preventing teen pregnancy.

Heaven knows we could use that here in Federal Way, where our teen birth rate is four times the national average.

Teen pregnancy affects everyone in our community.

According to Sarah Brown, CEO of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, “Funding programs that work to reduce teen and unplanned pregnancy will save taxpayers billions of dollars every year, improve educational attainment, contribute to our economic competitiveness, improve the wellbeing of children and families, and reduce abortion as well.”

Here are the top-five ways you can get involved and help:

1. Spread the word. Tell people about the National Day on May 7. Order some promo materials, such as buttons or pens from www.thenationalcampaign.org/store. Hand them out.

2. Take the quiz. On May 7, go to the website www.thenationalcampaign.org or www.stayteen.org and take the quiz. This helps educate youth and professionals about what youth know and need to know about staying safe and healthy in relationships.

3. Watch TV. Yes, that’s right. MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” is back on at 10 p.m. on Mondays on MTV. Research has recently shown that pregnancy rates have declined in communities where teens watch this show. After watching, go to thenationalcampaign.org/resource/16-and-pregnant-discussion-guides for a discussion guide about the episodes.

4. Visit the site. Visit www.thenationalcampaign.org for information, resources, parent guides, educational materials and more. Create a lesson plan for youth you work with, plan out a conversation with a teen you know or live with — you’re not alone.

5. Make a donation. Consider donating generously to one of the following organizations — or another one you know of that works hard to prevent teen and unplanned pregnancy:

a. Give nationally to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy — go to www.thenationalcampaign.org and click on the donate button near the heart in the top right corner of the page.

b. Give regionally to Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest — go to www.plannedparenthood.org/ppgnw and click on the link in the top right to donate.

c. Give locally to the GRADS (Graduation, Reality, and Dual Role Skills) program for pregnant and parenting teens at Federal Way High School. This program is one of only 23 programs in our state under the umbrella of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

It focuses on helping these students graduate, which is a huge accomplishment if you are pregnant or parenting in high school. They also work on the prevention of further pregnancy, and are successful in this, as there have not been any additional pregnancies since the program started two years ago, according to instructor Sherry Kerr.

GRADS partners with community agencies like Public Health, Federal Way Rotary, the Multi-Service center, and Communities in Schools to promote healthy pregnancies, healthy babies, child development, as well as connecting youth with services like WIC and Visiting Nurses.

They can use donations of diapers, formula, and other supplies. Contact Sherry Kerr at Federal Way High School (skerr@fwps.org; 253-945-5534) or Kaitlin Thomas with Communities In Schools (kaitlint@cisfederalway.org; 253-945-5416) to help.

This is everyone in Federal Way’s challenge. Find a way to get involved today. I’d love to hear what you do.

Amy Johnson, MSW, is a trainer, educator and coach in the Pacific Northwest. She is co-author of the books, “Parenting by Strengths: A Parent’s Guide for Challenging Situations” and “Homegrown Faith and Justice.” Amy facilitates classes and workshops in the Puget Sound area and online. She specializes in working with parents and in sexuality education. Amy can be reached at comments@diligentjoy.com.

 

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