What does Teen Outreach teach during the sex ed offered in schools?

 

I am a young person, how I can get involved with the Teen Outreach?

 

I am expecting a baby and am still in high school. I hear that the Teen Outreach helps with education

 

I am a parent of a troubled youth, get they get involved in your ECHO program?

 

I am an older member of the community but really love the programs I see on your website. How I can get involved?

 

I notice the column every week in the Observer Reporter from Mary Jo, how can I get involved with that?

 

 

 

 

 

What does Teen Outreach teach during the sex ed offered in schools?

Dr. Podgurski began teaching in-school sexuality education in 1988 in one school district (Trinity). By 1990, Mary Jo was teaching in 11 area schools. The Academy for Adolescent Health was formed and she began hiring and training nurses to teach with her. To date, Teen Outreach classes have taught in all Washington County School Districts. In the past, all Greene County Districts were also part of our programming, but funding cuts in 2006 necessitated that part of our mission come to an end. Over 200,000 young people in grades 5 - 12 have participated in Teen Outreach sessions and over 5,000 peer educators have been trained to teach with our professional staff.

 

Teen Outreach sexuality education is medically accurate, research based, and teen tested. Our Adolescent Advisory Board (begun in 1999) consists of teens from all Washington Districts plus one Greene County District. These young people review our learning activities and provide valuable youth input. We respect adolescent culture and learn from our teens!

 

Sessions in sexuality education are developmentally based. Fifth graders are vastly different from 12th graders and our curricula reflect the different needs of youth. Fifth grade classes focus on positive body image and self-awareness. Sixth graders focus exclusively on puberty. Dr. Podgurski championed education for this age group back in 1984 when she created the still popular program What's Up as You Grow Up? for 9 - 12 year olds and their parents. The in-school fifth and sixth grade programs draw from that curriculum.

 

Seventh and eighth graders need assistance with not only their changing bodies but also the pressures of living in a high paced, technologically changing culture that often sexualizes youth. To that end, the focus on the 7th and 8th grade sessions is POWER (Positive Options for Waiting through Education for Real Life). Myths and misconceptions about sexuality are dispelled. postponing sexual involvement (abstaining) is stressed, and communication skills are taught. This age group needs skill building, so the emphasis is on decision making, problem solving, and refusal skills. In 2008 we introduced sessions on sexting, social media and cyberbullying.

 

High school students require a more comprehensive approach. Our Postpone, Prevent, Prepare sessions cover prevention of pregnancy, STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and HIV/AIDS. Our focus remains positive, with an emphasis on sexual health, healthy relationships, and communication. We are careful to clarify the idea of mixed messages. Sexual involvement is an adult behavior that require maturity and insight. We avoid fear and shame as educational tools, seeking instead to help teens "own" a message of health for positive reasons. Our peer educators are vital to this effort. They help other teens make healthy choices by their teaching and their positive role modeling.

 

Teen Outreach sessions are respectful and non-judgmental. students are given "homework" that asks them to speak about sensitive topics with their parents and trusted adults at home. All students are respected and included, regardless of race, ethnicity, ability, gender or sexual orientation.  For more information or to talk with Dr. Podgurski, call her cell at 412 877 4906.

 

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I am a young person, how I can get involved with the Teen Outreach?
First, thank you for taking the time to learn more about the Teen Outreach and for your interest in our programs.  You can call Mary Jo anytime on her cell (412 877 4906).

 

Getting involved is so easy…the best place to start is to check out the Common Ground Teen Center, 22 West Maiden Street. It is open to the teens ages 14 - 18 Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 3 PM till 7 PM and Tuesday from 3 PM to 6 PM. The teen staff there always can answer questions, or connect you with one of our staff. Most of our regular programs meet there.
Peer Education, Peer Leadership, Real Talk Performers and our NEW Literacy Club all are open to all young people in high school.  Just come on over to the center, go on Facebook or check out our teen section here on our website to find out when we meet.  We love to have new faces join any of those groups.

 

There are also school related programs that young people can join. Our Adolescent Advisory Board and SHO (Students Helping Others) are both programs you can join with your school. Ask your guidance or administration if your school participates in those programs.  If not, you can always volunteer as an individual.

 

If you have any questions or want to be a part of any of the program/events you see listed just call our office, 724-222-2311 or message us online.  We love hearing from young people!

 

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I am expecting a baby and am still in high school. I hear that the Teen Outreach helps with education
Yes we do! First, congratulations on a new life...we believe that age does not determine what type of parent you become. It takes effort and time, but you can become a great parent, stay in school and graduate. We are so happy you are looking online for help. PPT (Pregnant and Parenting Teens) program is one of our longest running successful programs. We offer this one on one mentoring program to any young women or man who is enrolled in some sort of educational program (regular school, cyber, GED or after school) and is under the age of 22. Please call 724-222-2311 anytime a leave a message with your name, phone and school district. One of the mentoring staff will get back to you within 48 to 72 hours.  This program is currently available in Washington, Greene and Fayette Counties.

 

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I am a parent of a troubled youth, get they get involved in your ECHO program?
We would love to try to help. ECHO (Educate Children for Healthy Outcomes) is a one-on-one early intervention educational/mentoring program that seeks to recognize young people at risk for early childbearing, juvenile delinquency, drug and alcohol involvement, academic failure and other risky behaviors with a goal of empowering these at-risk youth to make healthy choices.  Youth can begin in ECHO as young as 2nd grade and may remain with the program throughout high school. If you think your child fits this description, please call our office at 724-222-2311. Heather Crowe, MA, our associate director, will be happy to speak with you about your unique situation.

 

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I am an older member of the community but really love the programs I see on your website. How I can get involved?

EASY! Thank you for your interest in our programs. So many things we do are in the community and we love to have new volunteers. We host conferences for many of our programs throughout the year, take part with World AIDS Day events, and host a summer neighborhood carnival. Our educational drama group (Real Talk Performers) is always on the move and we can use chaperones for those trips.  Getting involved with these events just requires a phone call. Please contact us (724 222 2311) if you would like to volunteer.

 

Also we have a Diaper Drive and an Incentive Shop for our young parents that always need new items. We accept all sizes of diapers, gently used baby and toddler clothes/goods and house hold items. If you would like to donate to any of these program just call our office first to find out when our office coordinator will be available for your donation.  Thank you!!

 

Lastly, our annual fundraiser, Washington’s Got Talent is always in need of volunteers, sponsors and auction items. If you would like to be involved with this event in ANY way please contact Amy at 724-222-2311. We would love to get people involved.

 

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I notice the column every week in the Observer Reporter from Mary Jo, how can I get involved with that?

Mary Jo Podgurski, RNC, MA, EdD., is founder and director of the our Teen Outreach.  Just email your question at podmj@healthyteens.com or mailed to Box 437750, Observer-Reporter, 122 S. Main St., Washington, PA 15301. All names will remain confidential.

 

If you are a young person and want to be part of the peer response please call Mary Jo directly or just drop in at the Teen Center. Mary Jo also seeks wisdom from teens for responses to her Ask Mary Jo Observer Reporter weekly column.

 

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*Please check out our events section on the homepage for up to date programs and events to get involved with.