THS, HPU team up for teen pregnancy campaign

Oct. 22, 2013 @ 10:25 AM

Thomasville High School and High Point University collaborated on a teenage pregnancy prevention initiative to keep decreasing statistics on the decline.

THS students on Thursday morning at T. Austin Finch Auditorium took part in the launch of the Live Life campaign, a collaborative piece between the school's Teen Prevention Education Program (PEP) and HPU. Graduate students at HPU and Teen Pep members help create Live Life, a media campaign geared toward the prevention of teenage pregnancy at THS.

"Teenage pregnancy is a problem everywhere, not just in Thomasville," said Jim Burchel, Teen Pep director. "The cool thing about this is this is all of our students."

According to recent statistics, the teen pregnancy rate across North Carolina is down 10 percent from the past year. In Davidson County, teen pregnancy has dropped 25 percent in the last four years.

"These numbers show that programs like this are making a difference," Burchel said. "They're making an impact."

Tanisha Harris, a 27-year-old HPU graduate, introduced the Live Life campaign by speaking of her own experiences as a young mother. Harris graduated from THS in 2004 after winning two state championships in basketball and decided to continue her education at the University of Miami. Following her freshman year, she returned home for the summer when she became pregnant. Harris, who is pursuing her master's degree in strategic communications, and five other graduate students came up with the Live Life campaign as a way to promote healthy decisions when it comes to teenagers having sex.   

"When they have unsafe sex, they are always at the risk of becoming parents at an early age," said Harris. "I feel like the climate hasn't really changed that much because it’s always been an opportunity to address something that is very important. Now we have the tools and resources to reach a mass number of people, and that's part of the reason the Live Life campaign came to life."

Teen Pep members played roles in several videos that premiered during Thursday's assembly. In the video  “A Look at Teen Pregnancy,” Jalyn Taylor, a senior in the Teen Pep program, told her story of becoming a 15-year-old mother and the difficulties it presented as she tried to balance school and an unplanned family.

"I like that I am able to tell my story about how hard it is to be a teen mom," Taylor, 17, said. "I don't want to people to follow in my footsteps. Its been really hard. I've got school and I've had to miss a bunch of days. When she's sick, I get sick. Between homework and studying, its been really hard. I was a little nervous but glad I got to get that my story out there."

Students also unleashed a full-blown teenage pregnancy campaign across the THS campus, complete with posters, pamphlets and public service announcements. Harris said Teen Pep's presence at THS provided the ideal forum for the project.

"We believe that programs like Teen Pep that teach healthy sex decisions are really important to decreasing those  [teen pregnancy] numbers," said Harris. "The Live Life campaign is a perfect complement to what Thomasville High School already is doing. We hope to carry that momentum. What we want to showcase is living a full life that is not confined by the responsibilities of being a parent — this is what your life could be like when you're responsible for someone else."

Prior to the Live Life launch, Teen Pep performed several skits focused on sexual harassment and bullying. Students portrayed several scenarios depicting signs of what sexual harassment and bullying would look like in a classroom or work environment.

"It was hard but fun at the same time," Zachary Pettit, a 18-year-old senior and Teen Pep member, said. "We had to learn all of our lines. It was tough but I think it will be worth it. All of the people are just amazing and I get to help people, which is something I like to do."

Teen Pep is a Communities In Schools of Thomasville initiative.   

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or duke@tvilletimes.com.

To view the videos follow these links:

Teen Parent (4 minutes): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTSksemByRg
Girls Snapchat (30 seconds): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZdQc_-mG-k