The Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children (ACF)/Family Youth Services Bureau (FYSB), in the Department of Health and Human Services funds community and school projects providing sexual risk avoidance education (SRAE). The purpose of school sponsored SRAE programs is to teach teens how to voluntarily avoid non-marital sexual activity. The funded programs provide services to communities with higher rates of teen births and/or teens who are at the greater risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The goals of SRAE programs are to empower students to make healthy decisions, and to provide them with tools and resources to prevent pregnancy and STIs, and youth engagement in other risky behaviors. Other risky behaviors prevented are alcohol consumption and use of tobacco and illegal drugs. Grantees receiving the SRAE program funding are expected to conduct programs that include medically accurate information; and instruction activities that are based on good science, are practical and meet the needs of the students and the community. The programs teach the health benefits (social, emotional, physical, mental health) of avoiding risky behaviors. Funded organizations provide programs that engage students to participate and learn about self-regulation; success sequencing for poverty prevention; healthy relationships; goal setting; resisting sexual coercion, dating violence and other youth risk behaviors such as underage drinking or illicit drug use and doing so without normalizing teen sexual activity.
In October, 2018, PATH, Inc (located in Indiana) in partnership with Life That Counts, Inc in Alabama received a three-year grant from FYSB to implement the new Relentless Program in Indiana and Alabama high schools. The Relentless program is classroom instruction based with Peer to Peer Mentoring that combines two programs – PATH’s Evidence Based Positive PotentialTM [adapted for high school] and BELIEVE, a promising Positive Youth Development curriculum developed by Life That Counts, Inc. The Relentless program will provide recruitment and training for selected high school mentors in 11th and 12th grade and instruction to the entire 9th grade class of student mentees. A total of 2600 mentees in 9th grade and 800 mentors will receive instruction over 3 years. High schools and students in 6 rural counties in Indiana and Alabama will be participating. The schools are in counties with high teen birth rates and high STI rates; and, lower economic indicators making them more vulnerable to teen pregnancy.
The RELENTLESS Peer2Peer Mentoring Program is a new and innovative approach to Peer to Peer Mentoring that PATH, Inc. and Life that Counts, Inc. are excited to bring to rural Indiana and Alabama youth. For more information on the content of the Relentless Program, including the session outlines, survey tools, etc., email Laura, firstname.lastname@example.org.