Faith-Based Program Aims to Lower Teen Pregnancy Rate - 8 News NOW

Faith-Based Program Aims to Lower Teen Pregnancy Rate

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LAS VEGAS -- Nevada ranks in the top five states when it comes teen pregnancy rates.

That means, every year more than 3,000 babies are born to mothers between the ages of 15 and 19 years old.

However, a $2.5 million federally funded program may be helping to reduce those numbers by partnering with faith-based organizations in our community.

In 2010, Nevada ranked second in the nation for the highest teen pregnancy rates.

Dr. Melva Thompson Robinson UNLV is spearheading the Southern Nevada Teen Pregnancy Prevention Project, which hopes to decrease those numbers.

The project partners with faith-based organizations and teaches the BART curriculum on the church property. BART stands for Becoming A Responsible Teen.

Dr. Robinson says the project targets African-American girls and boys, 14 to 19 years old, because they make up a disproportionate number of the pregnancy and HIV statistics.

"Whether we want to talk about it or not, we know that these kids are engaging in risky behavior," Dr. Robinson said.

Pastor Shirley Albritton with Shekinah Glory Ministries says she feels the education is exactly what the community needs.

"When I look at the community today, that we serve, I find that a lot of struggles are the children are basically alone. Both parents at work, they are watching their siblings," Albritton said.

Sixteen-year-old Shirley Dust is a member of Shekinah Glory Ministries. She joined and completed the nine-week BART program less that a week ago.

She says the BART curriculum helped her understand HIV and AIDS, improved her communication skills and taught her how to make better decisions about sex.

"In high school, it is very important that we learn this before we go into the world and learn from somewhere that we wouldn't want to learn or encounter it from," Shirley said.

According to the most recent statistics, Nevada is fourth on the list of teen pregnancies.

Dr. Robinson says the state is showing progress but the ranking may also be a sign that other states pregnancy rates are increasing.

For more information, email Dr. Robinson at robert.robinson@unlv.edu.

 

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