BELLINGHAM, WA - The Northwest Coalition for Adolescent Health (NWCAH) has been awarded $20 million by the Office of Adolescent Health to replicate the Teen Outreach Program (TOP), an evidence based youth development program aimed at reducing teen pregnancy. The program will focus on areas throughout the Northwest where teen birth and pregnancy rates are high and health disparities exist.
The Northwest Coalition of Adolescent Health (NWCAH) is comprised of six Planned Parenthood affiliates: Mt. Baker Planned Parenthood (MBPP), Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest (PPGNW), Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho (PPGWNI), Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette (PPCW), Planned Parenthood of Montana (PPM), and Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon (PPSO).
This funding will allow NWCAH to replicate TOP in 73 targeted sites, in 27 counties across the five NW states that have the highest rates of teen pregnancy. Within these communities, NWCAH plans to target a diverse population of youth in grades 7-12 in a mix of rural and urban communities. The program will reach over 8,000 youth over the five year project period.
TOP’s foremost goal is to significantly reduce teen pregnancy. Additionally TOP will help to significantly decrease academic course failure and school suspensions; increase youth’s positive attitude towards service and community engagement; and increase the numbers of youth who delay onset of sexual activity. TOP is an evidence-based program considered proven by the Federal government.
“We at Planned Parenthood have been providing life changing programs for youth and families in northwest Washington for many years,” said Tracy Dahlstedt, Education Programs Manager at MBPP. “We are excited to implement a strong program like TOP and are looking forward to this unprecedented opportunity to expand our programs and evaluate our successes.”
The Teen Outreach Program (TOP) has been proven to develop the positive potential of teens, thus leading them to more success and less risk-taking behaviors like teen violence, school failure, and teen pregnancy. TOP groups will meet weekly in schools and community agencies over a 9 month period. The curriculum includes age-appropriate sessions on relationships, communication, goal setting, and sexual health -- along with a vital community service component.
“We are excited to partner with other youth serving organizations and schools to provide this program across the region,” said Dahlstedt. “TOP is good for communities, families and youth. We believe that positive Youth Development programs like this not only reduce unintended teen pregnancies, but also promote positive social change.”
Nearly 700,000 teens in the United States will become pregnant each year. Teen mothers are more likely to drop out of school and fall into poverty. Children born to teen mothers also face significant life challenges. They are more likely to drop out of school, experience unintended pregnancies early in life, and experience more financial and health disparities compared to children of older parents.
TOP’s comprehensive youth development approach with at-risk youth has been tested across multiple settings over a 20 year period and has shown dramatic success in reducing teen pregnancy.
For more information about NWCAH or the TOP curricula, please contact Tracy Dahlstedt at: email@example.com.