Mission West Virginia: Teaching Health Instead of Nagging Kids (THINK)
- In 2015, Mission West Virginia was awarded an $8.6 million, five-year grant award from the HHS Office of Adolescent Heath (OAH) Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Program to implement evidence-based programs.
- Youth are served in a variety of settings including alternative schools, group homes for foster youth, juvenile justice centers, high schools, and middle schools.
- The project actively engages youth and adults in the community through six Community Advisory Groups (five regional and one statewide) and seven Youth Leadership Councils.
- Mission West Virginia and their partners implement two evidence-based programs: Draw the Line/Respect the Line and Love Notes.
“The role plays were fun and kept the class going. They got me to really think about what I would do in those situations.” – High School Student
In July 2015, the HHS Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) awarded 84 Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Program grants. Mission West Virginia is building on earlier successes to expand efforts to reach more youth in additional settings with evidence-based programs. Mission West Virginia is collaborating with Community Action of South Eastern West Virginia (CASE), Rainelle Medical Center (RMC), and Regeneration, Inc., to replicate evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention education for youth ages 11-19 who reside in high-need communities within rural West Virginia Appalachia. Because of multiple community partnerships, Mission West Virginia will expand its programming to include six additional counties and 40 new sites, nearly tripling the number of youth served by the previous grant.
About Mission West Virginia
Mission West Virginia is a non-profit organization that collaborates with public, private, and faith partners to build stronger communities in West Virginia. Through their Teaching Health Instead of Nagging Kids (THINK) program, Mission West Virginia takes a holistic approach to addressing teen pregnancy. The goals of Mission West Virginia’s OAH- funded project are to positively impact the communities they reach by reducing rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. They also aim to increase awareness and access to youth-friendly healthcare services, provide positive youth development, and mobilize community members to become active in the program and the wider community.
In addition to implementing two evidence-based program models (Love Notes and Draw the Line/Respect the Line), they engage the community through five regional Community Advisory Groups (CAG) and seven Youth Leadership Councils (YLC). The CAGs and YLCs convene a number of community-sponsored events throughout the year in order to foster positive youth development and reduce high-risk behaviors.
Mission West Virginia’s participation in a statewide CAG has played an integral part in their ability to expand programming, build support, and reach communities without duplicating services.
Why it Matters
The work that Mission West Virginia does:
- Serves youth in rural communities with the greatest need. West Virginia has the sixth highest teen birth rate in the country, which continues to decline at a slower pace than other parts of the country. In the state’s rural counties, the teen birth rate remains higher than in its urban counties. West Virginia also experiences high rates of generational poverty and social problems, including child abuse and neglect, drug abuse, and domestic violence. Mission West Virginia is serving rural youth with the greatest need by delivering evidence-based programming in safe and supportive environments, in trauma-informed ways, and with linkages and referrals to a wide range of youth-friendly healthcare services.
- Reaches some of the most vulnerable youth. In 2012, West Virginia had the highest teen birth rate in the nation for both youth entering foster care and in foster care at any point. Teen girls in foster care are two and a half times more likely to experience a pregnancy by age 19 than their peers who are not in care. More than half of all youth in foster care have had a child by age 21. Mission West Virginia is using OAH funding to ensure the schools and sites in the community they reach, including youth in foster care and juvenile justice centers, are receiving evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programming.
- Plans to nearly triple their reach. Mission West Virginia plans to deliver evidence-based programs to youth at 100 sites across 19 counties in the state. They will also reach youth through community-supported events, such as health fairs, teen expos, and an annual teen leadership conference.
Mission West Virginia by the Numbers
- National Teen Birth Rate (2015*): 22 per 1,000 females ages 15-19;
- West Virginia’s Teen Birth Rate (2013*): 40.1 per 1,000 females ages 15-19;
- Teen Birth Rate (2013*) in areas served by Mission West Virginia: range from 32.0 to 81.0 per 1,000 female ages 15-19.
*reflects the most recent year for which data are available.