May was Teen Empowerment Month, a time to highlight the importance of education, access, and empowerment to help teens take control of their sexual health in a way that is normalized and not stigmatized. Schools and health organizations across Iowa will host awareness campaigns to encourage teens to become informed about healthy relationships and responsible sexual decision-making.
This month, we would like to highlight the amazing work that Hillcrest Family Services did during Teen Empowerment Month.
Hillcrest Family Services worked with several schools throughout the month to spread their message. They conducted a 3R's lesson at one high school, where they added a day to focus on Prom. They asked students for one piece of advice they would want to give students who are attending Prom. They then tabulated the results and published them on school bulletins and the schools website. For another activity, they created a word cloud comprised of positive messaging about Prom. To come up with what to include, they work shopped with students on how to take negative phrases and make them positive. Instead of saying things like don't have sex on Prom, they would put phrases like know your limits or establish a curfew. The word cloud also included the number for a crisis line, and all of the kids that were a part of creating it signed the back. All of this was put on 500 business cards and given to tux and flower shops so that they could be passed on to students when they rented tuxedos or bought flowers for Prom.
At another school, students came up with the idea to pass out lifesavers as their fellow students were leaving, with the message "we care about your life, so grab a lifesaver". As these were being handed out, a teacher read a poem over the intercom. Hillcrest was very excited about this activity, as it was a fantastic collaboration between the teachers and students, and was established in two days.
Additionally, they played a trivia game during lunch periods at multiple schools. Trivia questions covered topics such as HIV/AIDS, STDs, birth control, and resources. During these lunch periods they also had the drunk goggles (Photos below). This trivia game wasn't the only game that was played, a group of students created a jeopardy game with questions about health, self-esteem, drugs and alcohol. This game was given to all of the homeroom teachers, who played it with their classes.
In one classroom, a teacher did a lesson on what it means to be empowered. The teacher had the students create self-portraits that told when they feel in power. These were then hung in Hillcrest Family Service's window, as well as in the schools hallways (Photo below). Quotes were also posted from different residential kids, with an example being "your dreams mean something".
During Teen Empowerment Month, Hillcrest Family Services reached over 1,000 students between the announcements, jeopardy game, and lunch hours. The majority of these were student lead efforts, and Hillcrest found it amazing that kids really motivated the staff to get involved. We couldn't be more impressed with all of the great work Hillcrest Family Services has done this Teen Empowerment Month. Thank you for all that you do to empower teens to take control of their sexual health in a way that is normalized and not stigmatized.