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Groups receive $80K for teen pregnancy prevention

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Denise Harrison-Johnson, Doris Stith, Byron Hall and Mysha Wynn work together last Wednesday on their presentation for the Community Enrichment Organization at a teen pregnancy prevention workshop held at the Tarboro Brewing Company. The group's Project Momentum proposal won $30,000 in grant funding for their proposal.

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Monday, December 18, 2017

TARBORO — Four Edgecombe County organizations competed this week for a total of $80,000 to help prevent teen pregnancies in the local community.

The iTP3, Innovative Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs team at Texas A&M University in a partnership with the Rural Opportunity Institute held a Design Thinking for Teen Pregnancy Prevention training last week at the Tarboro Brewing Co. on Main Street.

The Rural Opportunity Institute, an initiative incubated within the Public School Forum of North Carolina, was selected from a competitive applicant pool of potential sites across the country to hold this workshop, according to a press release from the organization.

“This opportunity will bring new funding streams and problem-solving approaches to local organizations that have been serving our community for years, but have often been overlooked for receiving resources like this,” Rural Opportunity Institute co-founder Vichi Jagannathan said.

During the course of the week, four local organizations sent representatives to the training session to gain hands-on experience applying design thinking concepts to teen pregnancy prevention. At the end of the training, each participating team presented an original idea about how to best develop a program targeted for teen pregnancy prevention.

The two winners of the competition were Project Momentum and Michael’s Angels Girls Club. Project Momentum was awarded $30,000 as well as an additional $2,000 to serve as the administrative coordinator for all four teams to continue working with Texas A&M, Jagannathan said. Michael’s Angels was awarded $30,000.

The Boys & Girls Club of the Tar River Region and North East Carolina Prep were runners up in the competition and each received $9,000.

Project Momentum will use its funding for “Teach one, reach one,” a program that uses community health workers to educate parents and youth in evidence-based sexual health curricula, Jagannathan said. The program fosters conversations about these topics at home and in the community.

Michael’s Angels plans to use its award for “Using the Connect,” a program that uses a network of youth advocates who are trusted adults in the community to educate youth about healthy relationships and model that behavior through joint community-based activities.

“Their goal is to convert idleness into action and encourage both youth, their advocates and the community to have more conversations about healthy relationships and to engage in positive activities together,” Jagannathan said.

All four teams are going to use portions of their funding to form partnerships and work together to bring positive youth development programs to youth across Edgecombe County, Jagannathan said.

“The teams have been trained in human-centered design methodologies and will use those techniques to get feedback from the youth they serve on how best to design their programs. Texas A&M will continue to provide support to the teams as they begin implementation in the New Year,” Jagannathan said.

Edgecombe County ranks among the bottom five counties in the state of North Carolina for rates of teen pregnancy and is expected to be negatively affected by the proposed federal funding cuts which currently support pregnancy prevention programs.

This work was made possible through the North Carolina Public School Forum, which served as the fiscal agent for the project.

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