Date: September 22nd, 2015
By: Gina Desiderio
Healthy Teen Network bestows a Spirit of Service Award in recognition of an exceptionally strong commitment to community and youth. Baltimore City has been recognized specifically for its creative approach to teen pregnancy prevention, through a public/private partnership driven by the Baltimore City Health Department and CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, as part of the larger B’more for Healthy Babies Initiative. Since its launch five years ago, this Initiative has made great strides for the young people in Charm City. B’more for Healthy Babies continues to empower our youth to lead healthy and fulfilling lives and epitomizes the mission and core values of Healthy Teen Network.
B’more for Healthy Babies envisions a future where all Baltimore babies are born at a healthy weight, full term, and ready to thrive in healthy families. B’more for Healthy Babies represents a public/private partnership, bringing together leaders from corporate, nonprofit, academic, and government sectors, to improve policies and services to support mothers, babies, and families. Creative approaches such as these contribute to improved outcomes, like the recent 32% reduction in the Baltimore City teen birth rate from 2009 to 2013.
B’more for Healthy Babies demonstrates the importance of a holistic, or Youth 360°, approach to improving health outcomes. The Initiative addresses factors at policy, community, relationship, and individual levels because “simultaneous and integrated action on several levels is more powerful at changing health outcomes than action on one level alone.” Focusing on high-impact areas across these levels, such as smoking cession, substance use treatment, family planning, home visiting, family literacy, nutrition, primary health care, mental health care, domestic violence intervention, and more, has ensured the success of the Initiative.
B’more for Healthy Babies has identified these key strategies in their approach:
- Champion and engage community members and clients
- Strengthen systems
- Address social, economic, and racial inequities that affect health over a lifetime
- Aim for sustainable, evidence-based solutions and funding
B’more’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative works to support the overall B’more vision by reducing teen births. Over 150 clinicians, social workers, health educators, and clinic administrators have been trained to provide youth-friendly health care services. A social marketing campaign created by teens, for teens—KnowWhatUWant/UChoose Campaign—provides outreach education for young people to increase their access to reliable information, decision-making tools, and services. The Long Acting Reversible Contraceptive (LARC) Project is a citywide, multi-agency collaboration to increase access to LARC methods.
The TPPI is sustained by a supportive public/private partnership of city agencies, foundations, nonprofits, faith-based and community organizations, as well as a Youth Advisory Council to ensure authentic youth engagement.
The public-private partners who drive B’more for Healthy Babies are commendable for their spirit and commitment to the Initiative’s vision…we need look no further to show you a Baltimore hero.
Healthy Teen Network will celebrate these efforts by honoring Baltimore City with the Spirit of Service award on Wednesday, October 14, 2015, at 8:45 am, at the kickoff of Healthy Teen Network’s Annual National Conference, Youth 360°: How & Where Youth Live, Learn, & Play Matters. This year’s event takes place at the Lord Baltimore Hotel. Leana S. Wen, M.D., MSc., FAAEM, Health Commissioner, Baltimore City, and Maria Tildon, Senior VP of Public Policy & Community Affairs at CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield, will accept the Spirit of Service Award on behalf of B’more for Healthy Babies. Representatives from B’more funders, The Abell Foundation, The Blaustein Foundation, and The Strauss Foundation, will also be in attendance.
About the Author
Gina Desiderio, Healthy Teen Network Director of Communications, has over 10 years of capacity-building and project management experience, supporting professionals to provide programs and services to empower youth to thrive.