Impacts 117 students
Data collected from a youth risk behavior survey supported the need for a teen pregnancy curriculum at N. R. Middle School in Hattiesburg. In January 2011, N. R. Burger started collaborating with Julie Norman, project coordinator for the teen pregnancy prevention initiative of Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative, to implement a Teen Pregnancy Prevention program for seventh and eighth graders. The program consisted of an eight week evidence-based curriculum called “Making A Difference” and was implemented through health and P.E. classes. Prior to implementation of the program, the social worker and school counselor met with students and teachers to discuss the program's benefits and answer questions. Students were given permission slips and information to take home to their parents and could participate only if they returned signed permission slips.
At the launch of "Making a Difference," the school hosted an Open House to inform students and parents of the Teen Pregnancy Initiative. Teen Pregnancy Coalition and Council meetings were also held with community stakeholders. A Girls Matter Conference involving female students focused on issues related to wellness and self-esteem. Students enrolled in the eight-week program were given the opportunity to discuss issues involving relationships, sexuality and consequences. Students received gift cards and certificates of participation at the conclusion of the program.
On a survey administered after the course, half of the participants indicated that they benefited from the program and would recommend it to others. Data shows that students gained significant knowledge regarding HIV, 75% were more likely to abstain from sex because of the program, and over 97% reported that the program had helped them abstain from or delay sex. The program increased knowledge regarding prevention of HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy, and resulted in more positive attitudes about abstinence. The parent educators and staff of Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative provided ten weeks of classroom sessions and social outings away from campus. PE and health teachers also collaborated with program educators to provide extra support and supervision of students.