Kudos to Shawn’Nise Gasby and Aliyah Bonsu, who took 4th place at the Delaware Teen Idol Competition in August for their song about teen pregnancy – an issue that disproportionately affects teens of color in the city of Wilmington.
In fact, according to the 2009 Wilmington Kids Count Fact Book, 85% of teen pregnancies in the City of Wilmington in 2006 were in the African-American community. Further, an alarming 40% of the births to 15-19 year olds between 1996 and 2005 were from the seven census tracts surrounding West End Neighborhood House.
In an effort to better serve clients, and in response to the issue of teen pregnancy, West End Neighborhood House selected the best pregnancy-prevention program currently available: CAS-Carrera. Children’s Aid Society (CAS)-Carrera is an award-winning, evidence-based, nationally recognized model that is classified as proven-effective in teen pregnancy prevention. The results of a scientific study of 100 13-15 year old Carrera participant and control groups in six New York City schools revealed the following outcomes:
- Female participants were 66% less likely to become pregnant as those in the control group
- Male participants were more likely to have a medical home and Hepatitis B vaccination
- Higher overall rates of high school graduation, GED attainment, and college enrollment
- Lower overall rates of fighting, sexual activity, alcohol and marijuana use
- Higher rates of condom use
CAS-Carrera focuses on seven areas of youth development and was chosen for replication by West End because of its comprehensive approach to engaging the whole child. The program’s target population is youth in grades five through nine, and there is no cost to participate. The model consists of five activities and two services including:
Job Club: A weekly work-related intervention (including stipends, individual bank accounts, graduated employment experience and career awareness). This module prepares and motivates participants for the job world and decreases the risk of unemployment.
Education & Academic Assistance: Daily individual academic assessment, tutoring, homework help, PSAT/SAT preparation, and assistance with college entrance to keep students on-track for graduation and encourage education beyond high school.
Family Life/Sex Education (FLSE): Weekly classes and individual discussions as needed to highlight the consequences of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and discourage sexual activity.
Self-expression: Weekly arts and cultural activities to build personal confidence and self-worth.
Individual sports activities (weekly): To develop social skills, encourage physical health/activity.
Medical and dental care: Free, comprehensive coverage including reproductive health and contraception counseling, plus vision screening.
Mental health: Weekly classes and individual counseling as needed by licensed social workers to address existing emotional/mental health issues early and avoid future complications (crime, substance abuse, etc.).
While the Carrera program offers one potential solution to the issues mentioned above, a city-wide turnaround in the condition of our youth requires other new and innovative efforts designed specifically to reach them. These efforts – coupled with an unwavering commitment on the part of local non-profits, businesses, neighborhood associations, law enforcement agencies, legislators, and residents working together – are what Wilmington’s children need to grow up as healthy, productive, and vibrant citizens of a proud community.
To learn more about the Carrera program and West End Neighborhood House, visit www.westendnh.org.