PPLM’s investment in education and outreach intentionally complements its delivery of expert sexual and reproductive health services. In FY20, PPLM engaged students, teachers, parents, and health care professionals across Massachusetts and the nation through a range of innovative programs.
PPLM’s exceptional education and training programs were recognized this year by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which gave its Association of Planned Parenthood Leaders in Education (APPLE) award to PPLM’s leaders.
PPLM’s flagship middle and high school curriculum, Get Real: Sex Education That Works, sustained momentum despite widespread COVID-19 school closures. Prior to the pandemic, more than 50 educators received in-person training through the Get Real Training Institute. Then, PPLM staff swiftly transformed their programming to continue to support teachers during the pandemic, offering workshops and webinars to support all Get Real educators and others who had transitioned to teaching their students online, drawing 532 additional participants between March and June. Get Real’s impact on education nationwide was recognized and enhanced when it was named a SELect Program by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), a resource for information about evidence-based social and emotional learning.
Teaching with Technology
In the face of the pandemic, PPLM harnessed technology to sustain and expand its educational programs’ impact and reach. Parents and professionals alike took advantage of digital workshops, webinars, and information sessions, freed from limitations imposed by travel to distant sites or conflicting schedules. PPLM staff held virtual “office hours” to answer questions and provide support. PPLM’s popular three-day Sex Education Cornerstone Seminar for educators, youth-serving professionals, and individuals seeking a basic foundation of knowledge in sexuality and sexual health information was quickly recast as six independent virtual sessions, which all reached maximum attendance.
In the Community
PPLM’s educational programming for youth and families incorporated a strong focus on Spanish-language content and materials. Among its initiatives were a bilingual Worcester-based campaign to provide teens with medically accurate information about preventing STIs and unintended pregnancies, and a priority program to decrease new HIV infections in the city of Springfield through community partnerships and culturally relevant sex education. These and other initiatives aimed at eliminating disparities in sexual and reproductive health outcomes and advancing health equity continued after the onset of COVID-19 through virtual events, classes and workshops, and social media.
“Virtual programs lend themselves to the kind of interactive, supportive, values-oriented content we want to deliver. We can literally meet people where they live.”
Ran Courant-Morgan, PPLM parent education manager
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