Alabama has the highest teen birth rate in the United States, at 1 birth per 25 teen girls. Washington State has one of the lowest teen birth rates in the nation, yet in Okanogan County, our teen birth rate is higher than rates in the state of Alabama: 1 in 20 girls in our county will become a parent before she reaches adulthood.
Okanogan Healthy Youth, a program of Room One, is working to move the needle on teen pregnancy.
Recognizing the importance of engaging youth as leaders in this movement, we convened a Youth Leadership Council (YLC) in 2016. In April, after recruitment and interviews, seven diverse young people from across Okanogan County were selected to serve on the YLC. This dynamic group of youth, ages 14-18, meet monthly and work to engage their peers and communities in activism around our county’s high rate of teen pregnancy. They also serve as advisors to the OK Healthy Youth Initiative, ensuring that our strategies will meet the real needs of youth and prevent unintended pregnancy.
This year they are working to increase access to contraception through social media and peer education, and by building the capacity of health clinics to provide youth-friendly services.
We are so excited to be learning from these smart and insightful teens! Their personal experiences, wisdom, and strength bring critical community leadership to the movement to end teen pregnancy that is OK Healthy Youth.