In the South Bronx, inside the International Community High School, Johnny, Brayan, Khady, Genesis and Francisco link arms and joke and giggle and write out lists of what they admire about each other. Sometimes they hug.
They are working-class kids, ninth-graders navigating the shoals of adolescence. Each is a volunteer in a program, the Teen Outreach Program [otherwise known as Changing the Odds at Morris Heights Health Center] aimed at decreasing the likelihood that they will become teenage parents.
Location: Morris Heights Health Center, Bronx, NY
Delivery: In-School and afterschool with 6th – 12th Grade
2010 OAH Grant Award Winner
Teens Served: 1,600
Despite recent decreases in teen pregnancy rates, the Bronx had the highest teen pregnancy rates and sexually transmitted infections in all of New York City –not due to increased sexual activity, but due to high levels of poverty.
“Teen pregnancy doesn’t just affect the father or mother, but also their offspring for generations,” said Estelle Raboni, program director for the Teen Outreach Program® (TOP®) offered by Morris Heights Health Center (MHHC) located in the Bronx, New York. “The high dropout rate in the Bronx is the unintended consequence of teen pregnancy, and from there, the cycle of poverty begins to snowball.”