With Gratitude the Condom Fairy Hangs Up Her Wings

Comprehensive Sexual Health Education

StreamSix years ago I accepted the opportunity to figure out a sustainable solution to the work my predecessor did regarding comprehensive sexual health education in the schools through the Garfield County PREP program. Originally, I had two years to find a workable solution. Luckily, the funding continued to stream from the federal to the state to the local level and will continue through September 2021 when an alternative plan will need to be instituted regarding funding.

The solution seemed apparent to me – train interested and available staff in the area middle and high schools so that if and when all funding streams went dry, the program could continue in the schools. To this date, Garfield County PREP has trained community members, school teachers, counselors, prevention specialists and other school staff who wouldn’t normally be teaching sexual health in their classroom.

It takes a certain person to have the comfort level and skills necessary to deliver the evidence-based lessons with fidelity. To remain value neutral, understand trauma, and how associated behaviors manifest in the classroom are skills that may not be as apparent or necessary in general education classrooms.

CourageThe courage

To dispel myths with facts through all the anonymous questions; and believe me there are questions

To build a safe community for the LGBTQ+ students who are 2X more likely as their straight peers to become pregnant by age 19

To demonstrate how to properly use condoms using a wooden demonstrator

To take time out of their regularly scheduled classes to attend the mandatory curricula training for a unit that will only last 5 – 7 lessons

To field questions and concerns from parents

are all HUGE requests on teachers.

Administrators have taken on the task of creatively scheduling so that classes can be delivered within their tight calendars; especially when health classes don’t exist.

Eternally Grateful

For the teachers, staff, community members and parents who allowed this paradigm shift for the youth of the valley, I am eternally grateful. The successful results that Garfield County PREP has achieved over the past nine years in all could not have been possible without all of YOU!

All of this has allowed me to find ways to connect directly with youth through the summer intern program and Gender Sexuality Alliance groups I facilitate. It has allowed me to create opportunities for youth to engage in their communities and learn about resources available to them if they ever find themselves in crisis. It has allowed me to create some awesome relationships that without them none of this would have been possible. It has allowed me to be known to some as The Condom Fairy.

Condom Fairy

It is with deep appreciation that The Condom Fairy hangs up her wings for a new adventure. I won’t be going far, however, as I will now be doing tobacco and marijuana prevention from Aspen to Parachute out of Pitkin County Public Health. I hope to maintain many of the relationships I have built in order to throw the prevention net across a wider span. I want to thank everyone who helped make the Personal Responsibility Education Program a success in Garfield County. I hope to see you around. I’ll be the one helping others ‘kicking butts’!

Comprehensive Health Education Outcomes

Garfield County PREP Outcomes

Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) Logo - Sex Ed in Garfield CountyGarfield County PREP is responsible for delivering the majority of Colorado PREP programming, with over 90% of the state’s participants currently served in this county. About

10% of Garfield County PREP participants report that they are currently sexually active

– and the proportion of sexually active youth

increases nearly 3-fold between middle-school and high-school years,

suggesting this is a key time to inform youth about their sexuality and sexual health-related issues.

We Heart Sex Ed

Garfield County PREP saw strong positive outcomes over the 2018-2019 school year, for all curricula it delivered. Participating in PREP decreased participants’ sexual intentions, with about

52% of participants reporting they are less likely to have sex following PREP programming

and only about

12% reporting they are more likely to do so.

This is a particular accomplishment when it comes to influencing participants’ sexual intentions among older and higher risk students, who are typically more sexually active when initiating programming.

In Garfield County, even the curricula targeting these youth, whose sexual intentions have been found to be more difficult to modify over the course of receiving sexual health programming, decreased during the 2018-2019 school year.

Even more strikingly, among those youth who do intend to be sexually active, Garfield County PREP is increasing intentions to use condoms/barriers.

During the 2018-2019 school year, about

80% of Garfield County PREP participants reported that they were more likely to use condoms/barriers after participating in PREP than they were before; less than

8% reported they are less likely to do so.

Comprehensive Health Increases Knowledge

Garfield County PREP also increases sexual health knowledge among participants. Pre/post-tests (e.g. assessing whether a person with an STD who looks and feels healthy can give the infection to others, whether a person can get the same STD more than once, etc.) showed student gains in knowledge for all PREP curricula delivered in the schools.

For many curricula, especially those targeting older students, gains of two or even three letter grades were seen on average over the course of PREP programming.

You can see the results by curriculum on the Garfield County PREP’s results page of the website. Regardless of year, PREP has consistently delivered these same results as demonstrated by the pre/post survey data analysis.

Teen Truths Becomes a Reality

Introducing Teen Truths’ Youth Authors

Have you ever wanted to get inside the thoughts of a teenager and hear the raw, uncensored truths of their teen world? Yes? No? Certainly, there was a time when I wanted little to do with teenagers; there’s a reason I was an elementary teacher, no? So, call me crazy then when I answer, “Yes. Yes, I do.”

Youth VoicesIt has been through my tenure with Garfield County PREP and developing the summer intern program; where I have spent a lot of time listening and engaging with teenagers, hearing their points of view on sexuality, sexual health, mental health, drugs, suicide and the myriad of issues facing teens today, that I have come to marvel at their wit, intelligence, honesty and humor. That is why I’ve invited youth to share their voices on the Garfield County PREP blog, Teen Truths.

Garfield County PREP is honored, humbled and extremely grateful to find two, bright young teenagers willing to take the time to share their viewpoints on the world and their place in it. May I introduce to you two incredible teen authors from the Colorado and Eagle River Valleys?!

Maria Isela Ventura

Maria Isela Ventura

Isela, as she likes to be called, is a student at

Coal Ridge High School on the Western Slope of Colorado.

She has the goal of two posts per month.

 

Saphira Klearman

Saphira Klearman

Saphira is a student in the Eagle Valley, and is the

founder of Project We Care Colorado.

Her goal is to contribute one article per month.

We hope you will check in often to take a glimpse inside the minds of two local teens who find resilience in their worlds and drive forward with focus, conviction and purpose.