Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION
Ensuring girls make smart choices
Program geared towards birth control and alcohol education
When Lindsey Matthews completed high school several years ago, she was toting around more than just a diploma — she was also carrying her unborn child.
A new provincially-funded program is trying to help other young women avoid a similar scenario.
Project Choices provides information to young women on how to take control of their lives and reduce a growing number of alcohol-exposed pregnancies.
Hailed as the first of its kind in Canada, the program is aimed at preventing babies from being born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. It offers pregnancy counselling and contraception to women who are considered to be at-risk of having an alcohol-exposed pregnancy.
"I wish there had been a program like this when I was going through school. It would have helped my choices," Matthews said.
The program is currently being offered at Klinic Community Health at 870 Portage Ave. in Wolseley and NorWest Co-op Community Health in Gilbert Park.
Tammy Rowan, counselling and FASD prevention co-ordinator for NorWest, said the program focuses primarily on young women who drink and are sexually active but are not yet pregnant.
Rowan a youth presentation worker has been connecting with students in city schools since the program’s launch this past April.
"So far the uptake has been nothing but positive," she said.
Program counsellor Elizabeth Halprin said the feedback from girls in the community thus far has been great.
"Many are curious and looking for more education and information," she said.
Advertising and other marketing strategies for the program are currently underway and use blunt language to ask young women if they ‘"Boink after beers," "Drink and do it," or "Drink bubbly, bump uglies."
However, Rowan stressed the program doesn’t rely on fear tactics.
"It is not a scare campaign. Consequences can be foreign to teens — especially if having never faced any real ones. We are getting them to remember to look at healthy choices and doing things in a safe way," she said.
Teens who participate in Project Choices can talk with a nurse about birth control options. There are also sessions to discuss drinking, sex and birth control.
For more information about the project contact Norwest Community Health at 940-8611, Klinic Community Health at 784-4072 or email@example.com. Information about the project is available online at www.projectchoices.ca.
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