Gaston Youth Connected

TeEN Pregnancy RATES MAKE SHARP DECLINE

Gaston Youth Connected was one of the nation’s first community-wide initiatives to reduce teen pregnancy. As one of eight demonstration counties from around the country working on this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention project from 2010 to 2015, Gaston Youth Connected provided new lessons on how North Carolina and the nation can address adolescent health.

Through Gaston Youth Connected, community leaders boosted programs for youth, make clinical services youth-friendly, and help connect youth in program and clinic settings to other services. The four major pillars of the project included: 

  1. Community Mobilization - Working with community stakeholders to get a clear understanding of local needs, priorities, and desires; building awareness for teen pregnancy prevention; engaging traditional and nontraditional leaders; and updating the community on progress.
  2. Evidence-Based Programs - Nearly 5,000 young people participated in highly effective, age appropriate health and youth development programs in schools, community organizations, and churches, as well as through systems that serve youth-at-higher-risk, like the foster care and juvenile justice systems.
  3. Improving Health Care - Coaching health care providers and organizations on how to provide  adolescent-friendly care and helping them implement improvements. 
  4. Linking Youth to Resources - Helping youth connect with the support systems or medical care they need; training adults in the community to help youth navigate to care; increasing health literacy so that youth feel comfortable going to the doctor. 

Highlights

  • Increasing the number of evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs, and the number of people and organizations that can provide them
  • Turning an old clinic into a model for age-appropriate, teen friendly medical services
  • Building community participation by developing local leadership groups to govern the project
  • Launching the Teen Action Council, a committed group of high-schoolers who do positive peer outreach

The Results

After the first three years of Gaston Youth Connected, Gaston County's teen pregnancy rate had fallen by more than 40%! In addition, the long-standing disparity between white and African American teen pregnancy rates had closed.

To learn more, visit the Gaston Youth Connected project webpage.