JACKSON COUNTY, Mich. – At-risk Jackson County teens are receiving special support with the help of a recent grant awarded to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI), a collaboration between the Jackson County Health Department, United Way, and over 20 other local organizations.
TPPI recently received a grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation to expand the Teen Outreach Program to approximately 50 more youth within Jackson County. The grant is for$25,000 per year for two years. The Teen Outreach Program is a national program that helps prevent adolescent problem behaviors through improving positive self image, effective life management skills, and achievable goals. The program consists of supervised community service, classroom based discussion, and activities related to key social developmental tasks of adolescence. Since 2011, TPPI has received funds from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services through the Taking Pride in Prevention grant to implement the Teen Outreach Program in partnership with da Vinci High School, Western Career Prep High School, and Jackson Public Schools.
Over the past decade, Jackson County has seen a 58% decrease in its rates of teen pregnancy. In 2003, Jackson County had a teen pregnancy rate of 78.4 per 1,000 females aged 15-19. In contrast, the current teen pregnancy rate is 33.1 per 1,000, moving Jackson County from the 7th highest rate of teen pregnancy to the 35th highest of all 83 counties in Michigan. Despite this decrease, teen pregnancy continues to be an issue in Jackson County. Teen parents are less likely to finish high school and more likely to live in poverty throughout their lifetime than older parents.
Since 2011, TPPI has reached over 700 youth with the Teen Outreach Program. With support from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation TPPI can continue to deliver honest facts about teen pregnancy, stress the importance of working hard to create a positive future, and develop relationships with caring adults.
Most of all, the Teen Outreach Program brings a message of hope and encouragement to many Jacksonteens who may seldom hear those words.