Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Grantees ‘Put Knowledge to Use’ at Annual Conference
In May, the Family and Youth Services Bureau held its annual adolescent pregnancy prevention conference for grantees of the state, Tribal and competitive Personal Responsibility Education Programs and Abstinence Education Programs. Attendees traveled to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor for the 2.5-day event to learn, connect and share knowledge about improving outcomes for young people in their communities.
“We know this is challenging work,” said Debbie A. Powell, Acting Associate Commissioner for FYSB. “That’s why we encourage grantees to come together each year to share their collective wisdom and diverse practice experiences.”
As the opening keynote speaker, University of Minnesota Research Director Michael Resnick discussed the evolution of adolescent pregnancy prevention and common challenges faced by practitioners. His presentation included tips for strengthening resilience in at-risk youth, such as giving young people opportunities to make decisions and encouraging reflection on how those choices impact other. Resnick, who leads the University’s Healthy Youth Development Prevention Research Center, also touched on one of the event’s recurring themes, helping young people see beyond difficult circumstances to plan ahead for successful futures.
Attendees chose between dozens of workshops designed to help their programs reduce adolescent pregnancy and curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS. Workshops were divided into four tracks: evaluation and data collection, implementation and programming, project management, and working with youth populations, which included cultural proficiency topics. In keeping with FYSB’s emphasis on Positive Youth Development, a number of sessions focused on skills like goal-setting and financial literacy that help young people prepare for adulthood.
The event also gave grantees the chance to learn from each through strategic networking sessions. Each afternoon of the conference, grantees gathered in small groups organized by topics or project roles to share program successes as well as lessons learned.
Youth mentor Christopher Barnhill closed the conference with a reminder for attendees to keep young people’s voices front and center after returning to their agencies. Barnhill, who has dedicated his life to promoting HIV/AIDS awareness since finding out as a teenager that he was born HIV-positive, attributed his own speaking skills to opportunities given to him by local youth-serving organizations.