BirthMatters reduces teen pregnancy through reproductive health education and empowers expectant young adults to raise healthy families through doulas utilizing the community health worker model.
Did you know since 2010 the teen birth rate in Spartanburg has declined by 50%? While this is a huge success that should be celebrated, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. According to Guttmacher, in 2010 4,600 females under the age of 19 in Spartanburg County were in need of contraceptive services and supplies. However, only 1,150 of these females accessed these services. This data demonstrates a gap between the need and the ability to access care for teens in Spartanburg.
We recently had the chance to sit down with Chelle Jones from iMatter to learn more about what she does for the Spartanburg community. We learned so much about all of the hard work that is being done by community members like her to improve the lives of young people in our community. Here are some of the awesome things we found out when we talked to her.
Hello my name is Chelle Jones. I’m a Community Health Worker for iMatter.
Hi Chelle, can you explain what iMatter is?
iMatter is the prevention part of BirthMatters, which is a local non-profit. We work to empower young persons to advocate for their own sexual health. Our goal is to decrease the teen birth rate.
Can you explain how you are doing that within our community?
Well I do several things in the community. First, I do one on one reproductive health sessions with young persons. In those sessions I usually do an assessment called RAAPS with young people who are 15-19 years old that identifies if they are in a healthy sexual relationship. RAAPS gives you a motivational interview platform for you to discuss with them and helps you identify resources needed to meet their needs. In those one on one sessions I can also do a program called 17 Days with young ladies who are 13-19 years old. 17 Days is a 45 minute video of different scenarios centered around the question of “What would you do?” in certain predicaments in a relationship, and it shows you a condom demonstration. It also has other subtitles that will help the young person with other important questions.
The second thing I do is a group-based session called SHARP. SHARP shows them the effects of alcohol and how it can hinder their decision making in sexual encounters. I also visit the detention center to do what I do with young person who are at a high risk. Young people in the community know they can come to me when they need assistance with getting appointments with the clinic to get birth control and condoms. And I’m there to be a listening ear when they don’t feel as if they can talk to their parents or trusted adult.
That seems like a lot of work. Why do you do this challenging work?
Well it’s not challenging work when you’re doing something that you feel like you were born to do. When I was growing up, I had a mom that didn’t think it was appropriate to talk about sex. So, I turned to friends, and that wasn’t a good idea. Most of my friends where pregnant at a young age, but I escaped that fate. When I starting having children of my own, I didn’t want to be that parent that didn’t want to have the talk about sex with them. So, when I got into this line of work it was so natural to me to talk to young persons about their sexual health.
And do you think the things you are doing work?
Yes, of course. If I can just get one young person to come and talk with me, to ask me to help them make an appointment for LARC (Long-Acting Reversable Contraception), or even just come and get condoms from me, that’s one less teen pregnancy or one less STI.
At the end of my day, I realize that this is not a job, it’s a calling. Here a quote that I tell them “Only you can advocate for you own health.” All these young persons that I help navigate through the different resources, it makes me feel like I’m giving back to the community and helping young person empower themselves into making better choices in their sexual health.
For more information or to connect a teen to Chelle, please contact her by phone at (864) 497-0785 or email at email@example.com
To read the blog post on the Mary Black Foundation’s website, click here.
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