When we launched our teen pregnancy prevention initiative, Okanogan Healthy Youth, we began by focusing on comprehensive sexual health education programs in schools, building youth-friendly practices in local health clinics, and supporting our most vulnerable youth in juvenile detention. But we knew that teen pregnancy would only be reduced if we addressed the other complex community problems that are connected to it, like poverty, racial disparities, and historical trauma. So, we started thinking bigger.
Recognizing that many of the “answers” to teen pregnancy could be found in the stories and lived experience of youth who call Okanogan County home, we turned to our Youth Leadership Council and partnered with five youth to create short films about their experience growing up in our county and the intersecting issues that lead to teen pregnancy. We learned that storytelling has the power to change lives by building connection, understanding and a shared purpose. Most importantly, their stories of struggle and resilience show all of us that our youth are strong and capable; they are the bright future of the Okanogan valley, and they deserve resources that make a difference.
Check out the videos. Share them widely. Join us in lifting up their voices!