BOSTON—The Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) presented its Alfred Frechette Award to Milton resident Jen Slonaker in recognition of her leadership in expanding access to comprehensive sex education and her dedication to improving the health of young people across Massachusetts. The Alfred Frechette Award is presented annually to a person age 40 or younger who has shown high accomplishment and promise in the public health field in Massachusetts.
As the Vice President of Education and Training at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts (PPLM), Slonaker spearheaded the development and evaluation of PPLM’s federally recognized comprehensive sex education curriculum Get Real. The high school and middle school curriculum provides medically accurate, age-appropriate information, and teaches communications and decision-making skills to help young people stay healthy, build healthy relationships, and plan their futures. The curriculum also empowers parents to be the primary sex educators of their children by encouraging open, honest conversations among families. Under Slonaker’s leadership, the Get Real curriculum was added to the U.S. Health and Human Services list of evidence-based sex education programs. It currently reaches over 200,000 young people in 29 states every year.
“The goal of sex education is not simply the absence of disease. It is not only the prevention of unintended pregnancies. It is the elimination of the stigma that prevents these lifelong conversations from happening. It is teaching from a young age the foundational concepts of consent and healthy relationships. And, it is believing that your sexual health is as essential as any other aspect of your overall health,” Slonaker said. “I am honored to be recognized by the Massachusetts Public Health Association and I am more committed than ever to further our shared goal of improving the health and wellbeing of all.”
The Get Real program includes the Get Real Teen Council peer education groups in Boston and Worcester. High schools students in the Get Real Teen Council lead workshops for their peers on sexual health and healthy relationships, and collaborate with community partners on public health campaigns to encourage STD testing and treatment. Slonaker also oversees PPLM parent education workshops that teach parents how to communicate with their children about sex and relationships, and PPLM’s professional training programs designed for teachers, nurses, and social workers across the country.
Slonaker has served on the board of the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy and currently serves on the Worcester: Impact on Sexual Health Task Force, which aims to better educational, economic and social outcomes for Worcester youth by improving Worcester’s sex education resources, increasing access to lifesaving sexual health services, and, creating an environment that supports healthy relationships.
“MPHA is proud to present Jen Slonaker with the Alfred Frechette award for her commitment to providing young people access to comprehensive and medically accurate sex education. For this work, Jen is a true health equity champion!” said Jodie Silverman, MPHA’s Interim Executive Director.