New program aimed at helping teens

Published 10:36 pm Saturday, July 18, 2009

It’s about making responsible decisions.

Staff from the Western Tidewater Health District is hosting a new community program aimed at helping teenagers making positive life choices.

“It’s a teen program to educate how to have an overall healthy lifestyle for young people,” said Rhonda Jones, health educator with the Western Tidewater Health District.

“We are empowering them with information with the hopes they make these positive life changes to become responsible teens and ultimately wise adults.”

Jones said the health district knew they needed to make a proactive attempt to reach the teens in the community when they received a report on teenage pregnancy rates from the state of Virginia.

According to population data from the state of Virginia, the teen pregnancy rate is 27.7 per 1,000.

Here in the city of Suffolk, teen pregnancies beat the state average with a rate of 30.3 per 1,000. Even more alarming, Jones said, was that the rate of black teen pregnancies in Suffolk was almost double the rate of white teen pregnancies.

Staff began to create a program that would reach into the community and talk with the city’s young women ages 10 to 19 years old.

The program is under the umbrella of the district’s Positive Life Choices, which is a comprehensive wellness program that promotes maternal child health for individuals living in the Western Tidewater Health District. The program teaches self-esteem, dealing with peer pressure, managing stress, nutrition and the consequences of sexual activity.

“We’re trying to target particular areas where we know that pregnancies are high,” Jones said. “We’re concentrating especially on low-income housing in all the cities in Western Tidewater.”

The program will be held at the following sites every week:

Mondays from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Hoffler Family Investment Center located at 2210 E. Washington St. in Suffolk

Mondays from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Windsor Library located at 18 Duke St. in Windsor

Tuesdays from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the East Suffolk Recreation Complex located at 138 South 6th St. in Suffolk

Wednesdays from 3 to 4 p.m. at Colander Bishop Meadows located at 935 Brook Ave. in Suffolk

Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Franklin Redevelopment & Housing Authority located at 601 Bank St. in Franklin

Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m. at Cogic Square located at 94 Stacy Drive in Suffolk.

Registration is required for the program. To register for program or for more information, call Jones at 514-4737.