May is Sex Ed for All Month. In Mississippi, however, not all youth are provided with the sex education they need and deserve. Mississippi needs more comprehensive sex education. In 2011, the Mississippi Legislature passed House Bill 999, which requires public schools to adopt and implement an abstinence-based sex ed policy and curriculum. Twelve years later, this law has not changed. We are still waiting for Mississippi to move toward comprehensive sex education. And while we wait, we work. We invite you to do the work with us.
Teen Health Mississippi is a nonprofit that seeks to improve young people’s access to high-quality sex education and youth-friendly healthcare. One way we accomplish our mission is through training trusted adults and building capacity in communities. We believe that when youth and adults work together, whole communities change. We offer training in topics like sexual health and sex education, mental health, youth-friendly healthcare, how to support LGBTQ youth, and how to work with expectant and parenting youth. Here are our training sessions.
Our work allows us to work in partnership with many young people across Mississippi and the South. One of them is Project ME. Influencer MaKena Bailey, whom we spoke to recently about her experience working with us.
How has your experience been with Project ME. been so far?
It’s been fun. It gives me a chance to work on my social media skills, like editing video and public speaking. It doesn’t feel like a school project.
What is one issue that you are excited to work on with the ME. project?
The thing that I like that we talk about most is probably (safer) sex, red flags (in relationships), trusted adults, and what to look for in a partner (healthy relationships).
This week, Teen Health Mississippi (THMS) is celebrating Community Health Center Week 2022. Every year during the first full week of August, community health centers (CHCs) around the country promote and celebrate their work with various activities. This year’s national theme is “The Chemistry for Strong Communities”. The daily celebrations are as follows:
Everyone deserves to feel safe, included and respected. But those with experience working with LGBTQ youth know all too well how often youth identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning are stereotyped, overlooked, or otherwise let down by those they should be able to trust.
To support young parents and expectant youth as a professional, it’s important to listen and understand. Expectant and parenting youth are often pulled in multiple directions, balancing school, work and home lives with becoming a new parent, but access to helpful resources and information along with positive relationships with trusted adults can help them thrive.
Teen Health Mississippi (THMS) is working with The Policy & Research Group (PRG) to develop a new teen pregnancy prevention program for youth involved in the criminal justice system.
The project aims to use Social Network Theory and motivational interviewing to help youth in the justice system to increase awareness of their social networks and how their networks influence their behavior, specifically when it comes to sexual behaviors.
Teen Health Mississippi is currently working on a prototype that will help participating youth think through their social networks and goals for their future.
“I am excited that we are getting close to being able to put our intervention in front of young people. I think that the fact that we’re looking at them as a whole person and not their offenses will make a great difference,” Teen Health Mississippi Director of Healthcare and Community Engagement Whitney French says. “Hopefully their time in the intervention will give them some positive decision making skills as well as a strong support system to help them reach their goals.”
For many families in Mississippi, 2021 brought heartaches and a range of physical and emotional challenges. Rural youth are struggling without easy access to resources on health and healthcare, including information on sexual and reproductive health, mental health, and youth-friendly healthcare.
On December 16, 2021, the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi announced that the organization has awarded grants totaling $360,000 to 11 Mississippi-based programs, including Teen Health Mississippi (THMS). Teen Health Mississippi will use the funds for the next MYSummit. To learn more and see the press release, click here.