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Planned Parenthood North Central States (PPNCS) is thrilled to welcome Ashley Booker as the organization’s new Vice President of Education and Outreach. In her role, Ashley oversees education and outreach services across the five-state region (Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota), programs that reach nearly 99,000 people each year.

Ashley brings an extensive background in education leadership and a dedication to Planned Parenthood’s mission of making sure young people and adults have accurate and timely information about their health and well-being. Ashley has dedicated her career to advancing equity in Minnesota and has spent the past decade designing, leading and evaluating education programs. Before joining Planned Parenthood, Ashley served as Director of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education’s Get Ready program, Minnesota’s statewide federal Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) initiative aimed at increasing high school graduation and college enrollment within communities of color. 

“Ashley brings a proven record of advancing equity in our region and a passion for improving the lives of young people and the communities we serve—we are thrilled to welcome her to our Planned Parenthood team,” said Lauren Gilchrist, Executive Vice President of External Affairs for PPNCS.  “Now, more than ever, our communities and youth need access to reliable, science-based sexuality information so they can make the best decisions about their health and their future.  With her extensive experience in education and evaluation, Ashley is ideally positioned to expand and deepen our community partnerships that bring comprehensive sex education to youth and adults across our region.”

BACKGROUND

Planned Parenthood-trained educators provide age-appropriate sex education to youth and adults in a variety of communities.  Our programs address the physical, mental, emotional and social dimensions of human sexuality and all of our sex education is nonjudgmental, medically accurate, and culturally responsive. 

The majority of Planned Parenthood’s education programs are culturally specific (meaning they are taught by members of the community and include culturally specific tools) to remove barriers to growing healthier communities.

Many of our education programs are driven by a peer education model, with youth and adult participants trained to be experts in their communities and talk about sexual health topics with their friends, families, and others. Planned Parenthood educators also provide one-on-one education sessions to help parents open lines of communication with their children about health and sexuality.

Planned Parenthood educators also offer professional development workshops designed to improve knowledge, competencies, skills, and effectiveness.  The curriculum for these workshops is developed in consultation with sponsoring agencies and are designed for specific audiences, such as educators, administrators, school nurses, and counselors; youth-serving professionals; nurses and health care professionals; and social workers/counselors.

Why do we need comprehensive sex education?

Research shows that the majority of adolescents don’t have the information they need to make responsible decisions about sex, leaving them vulnerable to coercion, STDs and unintended pregnancy. Additionally, across our region, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are at historic highs, especially among people ages 15-24, and chronic health disparities–-by geography, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, and gender identity—persist.

Comprehensive sex education leads to healthy outcomes

  • Studies show that teens who receive comprehensive sex education are 50% less likely to experience pregnancy than those who received abstinence-only programs.
  • Studies have demonstrated that comprehensive sex education programs help young people delay the onset of sexual activity and use contraception and protection when they do become sexually active.
  • These programs also help young people reduce risky behaviors that can lead to STDs and unintended pregnancy.

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