Success Stories

 

Alaska 

Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health Data and Assessment Mini-Grant 

By Sophie Wenzel, MPH
Adolescent Health Program Manager
Section of Women's, Children's and Family Health
Alaska Division of Public Health
 

Alaska’s Adolescent Health Program is using an AMCHP Data and Assessment (DATA) Mini-Grant to conduct a teen sexual and reproductive health needs assessment. With the ultimate goal of reducing teen pregnancies, our DATA project is designed to help us find out Alaska teens’ sexual reproductive health needs so that our programs can better serve them. The Adolescent Health Program will use the data compiled during the needs assessment in order to drive future programs and influence policies. 

The Adolescent Health Program Manager met with youth from several rural areas and Anchorage to help design the survey instrument. They met in focus groups to discuss the issues teens face, and the youth helped develop the survey questions based on their knowledge of teens in their community. Two surveys were designed –one for adults (service providers and parents) and one for youth (ages 14 to 20). An opinion survey was developed, rather than asking people directly about themselves, in hopes that the format would help people feel more comfortable answering sensitive questions honestly and openly. 

The survey was sent to providers throughout the state and they were asked to complete it and share it with teens that they work with. The survey was administered at various events and conferences that targeted teens and their providers. The youth that helped create the survey also completed the survey and promoted it to their friends and families.  

Results of the survey are expected by early June. Data collected will be compiled and analyzed. The Alaska Youth Health Advisory Committee, a committee comprised of teens from the entire state, will hold its first meeting this fall to review the data and decide on which direction the program should take. 

There were some challenges involved in this process. Working in Alaska presents geographic challenges since Alaska is almost three times the size of Texas with a very diverse population of approximately 680,000. Designing a survey that would speak to teens throughout Alaska proved to be difficult. Also, when thinking about teen pregnancy prevention, programs should look at a broader view than just access to contraceptives. A history of sexual assault and violence in girls lives, for example, means that they are more likely to get pregnant as a teen; however, it is difficult to ask those questions in an opinion survey.

One of the major successes of this project is that the Alaska’s Adolescent Health Team worked directly with diverse youth to create the survey. The young people provided input that was incorporated into the survey, which gave them ownership of the process and allowed them to have a strong role in disseminating it and serving as data collectors. Also, other teens are generally more responsive when the survey has been created by their peers. 

Overall, Alaska will be able to collect much needed data to inform their adolescent health work, and involving teens has provided them with a great opportunity to engage in reproductive and sexual health issues that they face as well as learn about the process of designing a survey and collecting data. The Adolescent Health Program wishes to thank AMCHP for their generous mini-grant.

 

Connecticut  

Tell Me What You See - An Innovative STD, Hepatitis and HIV/AIDS Prevention Initiative

That Helps Students Visualize Their Way to a Healthier Future 

By Darrell Decker, Concerned Citizens for Humanity

James Horton, Concerned Citizens for Humanity

Mike Salius, Salius Communications

Heidi Jenkins, Connecticut State Department of Public Health

Susan Major, Connecticut State Department of Public Health

Bonnie J. Edmondson, Connecticut State Department of Education 

Tell Me What You See, a statewide initiative developed in Connecticut, integrates functional knowledge and skill development through an art-based approach to prevention education. The dynamic combination of assessments and artwork are what set Tell Me What You See apart from other health education initiatives. The artwork and poetry were produced by incarcerated youth in a program designed to enable them to make a difference in the lives of their peers. The resulting artwork effectively engages youth and opens up a critical dialogue on the role personal behavior can have in the prevention of STDs, hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.  

Health teachers who have used Tell Me What You See find that its art-based prevention messages reach their students on an emotional as well as on an intellectual level and breaks downs barriers that sometime inhibit classroom discussion. The program also incorporates activities that promote dialogue between students and significant adults. The following comments from health educators illustrate the benefits of the program: 

  • “Tell Me What You See represents a big difference from the standard curriculum for kids…It actively engages them.”
  •  “Many students had emotional reactions to the artwork that helped them share their own thoughts and get a sense of what others were thinking and feeling.”
  • “The artwork scared some students because it brought home to them what it would be like to have one of these diseases. This created an honest classroom discussion.” 

In addition to the art-based component of Tell Me What You See, there’s a knowledge based component comprised of pre- and post-assessments to assist teachers and students in measuring what has been learned. An in-depth evaluation of the program conducted in 2008 indicated that there was a statistically significant gain between pre- and post-assessment scores. The program has proven to be effective in increasing students’ functional knowledge; ability to visualize and be introspective; ability to consider the impact of behavior on family, friends, community and self; and communications with significant adults (parents, teachers, health professionals and others). 

Tell Me What You See includes a complete package of easy to implement classroom materials that can increase student engagement in any existing health education curriculum. The program has been successfully implemented with urban, suburban and rural schools, state technical high school students, the American School for the Deaf, schools that serve physically and behaviorally challenged youth, and with community based organizations.  

For more information about Tell Me What You See, contact Darrell Decker, Executive Director of Concerned Citizens for Humanity at ccfh@mindspring.com or (860) 560-0833.   

The Tell Me What You See program was produced by Concerned Citizens for Humanity, Ltd., the program administrator, in collaboration with the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the Connecticut Department of Education, and Community Partners in Action. The Connecticut Department of Public Health, the Connecticut Department of Education and Centers for Disease Control provide support for the program. 

 

Missouri 

The Council for Adolescent and School Health (CASH)

By Lissa Pressfield, MHS
Program Manager, Adolescent Health, AMCHP and

Patti Van Tuinen, M.Ed., CHES

Adolescent Health Coordinator, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
Division of Community and Public Health 
 

The mission of the Adolescent Health Program within the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is to promote the health, safety and success of adolescents by facilitating collaboration among Department programs and external partners to address various adolescent health issues and achieve healthy adolescent development. The Council for Adolescent and School Health (CASH), which began as a task force in 1997, advises and assists the Department in identifying adolescent health priorities and promoting strategies to reduce health risks to adolescents and promote healthy youth development. CASH members include: State Agencies (Health, Mental Health, Social Services, Transportation, and Elementary and Secondary Education); Health Care/Public Health/ Mental Health Partners (American Academy of Pediatrics, Adolescent Medicine Consultant from Mercy Hospital, Health Centers, and more); School/Education Affiliations (Association of School Nurses, School Counselor Association, Jefferson City Public Schools, and more); and other organizations serving youth and families (i.e. Missouri 4-H, ParentLink, and more). In 2005, CASH developed the State Framework for Promoting the Health of Adolescents and provided input on the Department’s strategic plan. In 2006, the CASH group participated in the Adolescent Health Program’s System Capacity Assessment to strengthen coordination of programs and services for youth and their families. CASH consists of both internal to the Department and external partners that continue to facilitate collaboration to promote a coordinated family, community and school approach to achieve healthy adolescent development.  

In May 2009, AMCHP staff travelled to Missouri and participated in a CASH meeting with the internal partners. During the meeting the members assessed changes in DHSS capacity to address adolescent health issues (since 2007) and reported which programs have been improved, maintained, and disbanded in their Division. In spite of current economic challenges facing the nation, there were an overwhelming number of new, improved, or maintained programs that serve adolescents. Missouri’s CASH members have found effective ways to enhance and maintain their commitment to improving the health and well being of young people. By sharing the successes and challenges related to various programs, the members were able to identify strengths, opportunities and the need for connecting with other programs in the Department as well as access information and resources that will inform and support their future work. Missouri’s CASH serves as a valuable resource that contributes to the success and strength of the Adolescent Health Program in Missouri.