If you can intervene in the life of middle school teens, teaching them the realities of life choices, we can prevent homelessness all together…
Covenant House Washington realizes that the tremendous challenges faced by young people in their late teens and early twenties could often be traced to teen pregnancy – either because they were born to teen parents or because they themselves were teen parents. And for that reason, we regard pregnancy prevention programming for younger teens to be inextricably tied to our mission of serving young people. Working in Wards 7 and 8, specifically in communities east of the Anacostia River, Covenant House Washington operates an outcome-oriented teen pregnancy prevention program for children in grades 5-9. The Choices Matter Program confronts the issue of teen pregnancy and enables young people to make value-, moral- and information-based decisions through structured school-based activities. The goal is simple: to foster within young people a healthy sense of self that encourages them to abstain from sexual activity and other negative behaviors.
PSP uses Promoting Health Among Teens Abstinence-Only Intervention (PHAT) as its core pregnancy prevention curriculum. The PHAT curriculum has been endorsed by the Public Health and Science Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as one of two abstinence-only curricula that satisfies its standards for evidence-based program models.
In addition to PHAT, Covenant House Washington uses the Baby Think It Over Program (BTIO), which employs amazingly realistic baby simulators that give young people an eye-opening preview of what it is like to be the parent of a baby. Young people take their “babies” home for several days and get to see and feel what it’s like having to deal with a hungry, crying, utterly dependent infant. This highly interactive, experiential learning vehicle is intended to help young people understand three vital facts about parenting:
1. That every infant requires a great deal of love, time and attention.
2. That although an infant’s demands are unpredictable, they must be met promptly
3. That being responsible for a baby profoundly impacts one’s lifestyle and should only be taken on by someone prepared for and genuinely wanting the weightiest of life’s responsibilities.
The Choices Matter curriculum helps middle school youth dispel the unrealistic expectation that parenting offers much joy, but demands little sacrifice.