Lisa Carter: Victory and Triumph

Lisa Carter and Family

Lisa Carter and Family

“Her journey, though wrought with obstacles nearly every step of the way, speaks victory and triumph.”

This short excerpt from a nomination letter for Lisa Carter, the 2013 Outstanding Teen Parent Awardee, paints just one small part of the picture, but tells so much. When she was nominated for the award that she ultimately ended up winning at last year’s Healthy Teen Network Conference, other words and themes that consistently emerged in her nominating materials were terms like “dedicated,” “inspiring,” and “hard-working.”

Shortly after being placed into foster care at the age of 12, Lisa became pregnant with her first child. At 19, she had a second child. Early on, it was clear that Lisa had a passion–not to mention a very special gift–to support and encourage young people to reach their goals. Her role as a Teen Advisor at the Adolescent Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative in Boston, in which she coordinated events to promote teen pregnancy prevention and educated teens about making healthy decisions and the importance of goal setting, was just the first of many invaluable ways she has worked to support healthy youth.

Currently, Lisa, who earned her Bachelors degree from the University of Massachusetts, works for Communities In Schools, a drop-out prevention organization, located in Charlotte, NC. “I help guide, and not be judgmental,” she explains of her work, stressing that teens need goals, positive feedback, and most of all education.

When learning that she had been chosen to receive the award, Lisa thought, “Wow–24 years later [after the birth of my son], and there’s an organization that wants to honor me for the work I’ve done. I didn’t even know there was such an award,” she says. “There are programs for [pregnant teens and young parents], and things of that nature, but once you phase out of those programs, you’re sort of off living life and you don’t hear much about how [people in the programs] are doing later on in life, so it’s amazing that [Healthy Teen Network] honors moms and dads. I really, really appreciated that.”

How important do you think it is to help teens you work with set goals? What strategies have you found successful in helping them set goals and achieve them?

What Is ESHE…and Do I Really Need Another Acronym in My Life?

Valerie Sedivy

Valerie Sedivy

The field of sexual health, like so many others, is loaded with acronyms. To describe programs, we have EBI (Evidence Based Interventions), EBP (Evidence-Based Programs), and CSE (Comprehensive Sex Education), just to name a few. And now we have a new one in the mix: ESHE, or Exemplary Sexual Health Education. It’s worth learning this acronym and what it means. ESHE is a step forward for the field, and it’s a major component of a recent funding initiative by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health (CDC-DASH).

ESHE focuses on the content of programs or curricula, but it has an equal emphasis on the way that the content is delivered. ESHE has content that reflects peer-reviewed research on the characteristics of effective programs. This means that content is medically accurate, consistent with scientific evidence, and tailored to students’ needs and the contexts and educational practices of communities.  ESHE includes opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate developmentally appropriate sexual health-related knowledge, attitudes, skills, and practices.  ESHE also emphasizes that the content must be delivered effectively, meaning the content is delivered by well-qualified and well-trained instructors who know how to use effective instructional methods to deliver the program the way it’s intended to be delivered.

Many of us put a lot of thought into selecting or crafting an educational program that stands the best chance of helping young people stay healthy. It’s much harder to ensure instructors and health educators can not only deliver the curriculum content but deliver it in the most effective way. CDC-DASH is making it possible for their funded partners to develop methods for doing just that, and Healthy Teen Network will be supporting local education agencies along the way. We’ll keep you posted on our efforts as the project progresses.

Is ESHE a new term for you? Would you say it applies to some of the work you’re already doing?

Valerie Sedivy is a Senior Program Manager at Healthy Teen Network.

Providing Youth-Supportive Service through a Trauma-Informed Lens

Gina Desiderio

Gina Desiderio

It’s extremely important that any professional working with youth is prepared to encounter and address disclosures of trauma. Over 60% of U.S. youth under 18 have either directly experienced or witnessed some type of violence in the past year. Nearly 40% experienced two or more direct victimizations.[1]

When I started my career as a high school teacher, I know I was not prepared for the disclosures I would encounter from my students, or how to handle them. In one situation, I remember sitting there, listening to the young woman’s story, knowing that she was trusting in me enough to confide in me, and knowing that I needed to acknowledge the disclosure, as well as connect her to any appropriate resources…but my initial reaction was one of complete lack of preparation.  I was unsure of myself, what I should say, and I was afraid I’d say something wrong or completely fail to support her. I certainly didn’t know about how I could use trauma-informed approaches in the classroom.

Being prepared is part of using trauma-informed approaches…learning more about how to listen with a different ear—one that hears the child within and recognizes earlier traumatic experiences that may be shaping current behavior—could have been incredibly helpful in my teacher-student relationships.

It’s extremely important to use trauma-informed approaches because we know that child maltreatment and childhood exposure to trauma has long-reaching effects on adolescent development, and it may increase risk factors related to sexual behaviors, substance use, and violent behavior.[2]

If you’re interested in learning more about trauma-informed approaches, Healthy Teen Network encourages you to join us for a 60-minute webinar, Hearing the Child Within: Trauma-Informed Approaches, on Tuesday, February 18th, 2014, 3-4:00 EST. Pat Paluzzi, CNM, DrPH and Deborah Chilcoat, MEd will define trauma and explore the types most often experienced by children.  They will address the connections between earlier exposure to trauma and current sexual, reproductive, and parenting behaviors among youth. Finally, Pat and Deb will share examples of how youth-supportive services may differ if conducted through a trauma-informed lens. Register for the webinar here.

Read more about our upcoming webinars here.

How do you work to incorporate trauma-informed approaches into your work?

Gina Desiderio is the Director of Marketing and Communications at Healthy Teen Network.

Top 5 Healthy Teen Network Resources of 2013

In 2013, Healthy Teen Network continued our work providing capacity-building products and publications for adolescent sexual and reproductive health professionals. Did you miss any of these new resources we released in 2013–or just want to take another look as we enter the new year? Here you go:

Youth 360: How & Where Healthy Teens Live, Learn, & Play: The Social-Ecological Health Promotion Model & Social Determinants of Health
This two-page resource provides a brief overview of the interrelated spheres of health in the social-ecological health promotion model and the social determinants of health that influence individual behavior and health outcomes. Healthy Teen Network promotes a comprehensive Youth 360° frame, using the social-ecological health promotion model, to better understand the social determinants of health and the various spheres of influence on individual behavior and health outcomes.

“Keep It Simple: A Lesson in Linking Teens to Sexual Health Care” Lesson Plan
The “Keep It Simple: Linking Teens to Sexual Healthcare” lesson is a brief 45 minute lesson plan, including a motion graphic, designed to help link young men and women, ages 15-19, to trusted, “teen friendly” contraceptive and reproductive healthcare providers. The module addresses reasons why adolescents don’t typically access services that include: gaps in knowledge about their right to care, services and contraceptive methods available to them, and the location of healthcare providers that can meet their unique needs in the community.

Sexual Health E-Learning Assessment on Professional Development Opportunities for Educators
Healthy Teen Network works diligently to bridge gaps in knowledge and skills in order to support the implementation of evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs, as well as providing high-quality technical assistance to implementation partners. This document includes the results of our review of e-learning professional development programs.

Road Map for the Future of Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health: 2013-2016 Strategic Plan
Healthy Teen Network’s 2013-2016 Strategic plan focuses on addressing three overarching areas:

  • Promote an Inclusive Frame
  • Increase Our Impact
  • Build Sustainability

The plan is presented as a printable document and an online interactive presentation.

2012 Annual Report
View our Annual Report as an interactive online presentation and as a print-friendly Executive Summary.


Of course, one of the best ways to keep up with the latest in adolescent sexual and reproductive health is to follow this blog (look at the upper right hand side of this screen for the “follow” button) and sign up for our email alerts.

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