Youth Leadership Council Works To Prevent Teen Pregnancy
The Council, made up of youth ages 15-19, is part of the Tulsa Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.
Crude oil, natural gas, wheat, cattle, and teen mothers. As a state, Oklahoma can produce. For years, our state has led the nation in its rate of teen pregnancies, ranking second in 2017 – behind Arkansas and ahead of Mississippi. While increased wheat and cattle production can be good for farmers, ranchers and the state as a whole, teenage pregnancies pose significant health and socio-economic challenges for the mothers and their children, alike. Tulsa Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy is working to reduce teen pregnancy in our city and state, and the Campaign’s Youth Leadership Council plays an important role.
“The Campaign was formed in 2013 to address the high teen birth rate in Oklahoma and Tulsa County, specifically,” explains Heather Duvall, the Campaign’s Director of Programs.
According to Duvall, the Campaign is a “capacity building organization,” working with other services like the Tulsa Health Department and Youth Services of Tulsa, to help support them through training and technical assistance. The Campaign also coordinates sex education implementation in Tulsa Public Schools. The Youth Leadership Council (YLC), comprised of teens ages 15-19 from across the Tulsa community, is one of the Campaign’s programs, and Duvall is excited about their work.
Through the YLC, the Campaign equips youth leaders with advocacy and public speaking training. The YLC meets twice a month. According to the Campaign’s website, the YLC “engages the community through public awareness and event planning targeted to empowering Tulsa’s youth.” The YLC has created videos, hosted guest speakers and developed ways to educate their peers.
“They’re phenomenal, amazing and passionate and have that voice that is so critical to our work,” Duvall explains. “Based on research and best practices and things we know that work, it’s teens and their ideas that really make an impact.”
Dianna Fly is a student at Tulsa Community College. This is her second year to participate in YLC.
“I decided to apply to be a member because I have been passionate about adolescent health, and specifically reproductive health and rights for teens, for several years,” she says. “As a member of YLC, I provide my input and ideas about the tasks that we’re working on, or any topics we may be discussing, and help spread the word about any events we are planning.”
Fly believes teenage voices are important in any effort to prevent or reduce teen pregnancies.
“I’ve learned through my participation in this program that my perspective as a young person is truly important while addressing issues such as teen pregnancy,” Fly notes. “I’ve also learned there are many adults in Tulsa who are more than willing to listen to young people’s ideas and thoughts, and beyond that, there are many adults who are willing to change the way things are done to make their programs or services better and more accessible to young people.”
Reducing the number of teen pregnancies in Oklahoma is a worthy and valuable goal for everyone living in this state. Supporting the efforts of organizations like Tulsa Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and its Leadership Council is a great place to start. For more information on the organization, visit www.tulsacampaign.org.
Julie Wenger Watson is a freelance writer who’s worked in all aspects of music promotion. She’s also Co-Director of “Live From Cain’s,” a public radio show pilot.