Date: February 29th, 2016
By: Kelly Connelly
To prevent teen pregnancy and protect young people from relationship violence, Alaska needed an approach that covered a lot of ground. Alaska’s Personal Responsibility Education Program (Alaska PREP) was the solution.
Alaska PREP goes into state schools and offers The Fourth R, an evidence-based curriculum that focuses on healthy relationships, positive adolescent development, and life skills. The program is delivered by educators and staff of community-based organizations who have an active presence in the students’ lives.
Since the program’s inception in 2011, Alaska PREP has trained more than 300 adults. More than 4,000 students—including 1,350 youth the first half this year alone—have been reached.
Life Skills Training
The Fourth R meets the PREP requirement of addressing at least three of six adulthood preparation subjects in teen pregnancy prevention programming by focusing on healthy relationships and decision-making skills that are relevant to adolescents.
“[Including adulthood preparation] is how The Fourth R was built,” says Katie Reilly. She coordinates adolescent health projects for the Division of Public Health within Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services, which runs the program in close partnership with the Department of Education and Early Development.
“Life skills are woven throughout the curriculum,” says Reilly. Many of the role-plays and interactive classroom discussions focus on key skills such as decision-making, negotiation, and communication.
“One of the things that I love so much about the life skills and healthy relationship curriculum is that it’s so varied and [helps build] skills that are transferrable to whatever topic we’re working on,” Reilly says. “Whether a student is in a peer pressure situation or in a romantic relationship, the same skill sets can be applied.”
The Fourth R has been rigorously evaluated. As hoped, Alaska PREP has seen positive results for its youth. The project has demonstrated effectiveness and positively impacted program participants.
After participating in the program, Alaska teens
- Had greater awareness of what kinds of behaviors are abusive.
- Were less likely to say physical aggression was acceptable.
- Were better equipped to engage in healthy relationships, bystander intervention, and conflict resolution.
The state also found that, two and half years after completing the program, youth experienced lower levels of dating violence and sexually active teen boys were more likely to use condoms.
What is next for Alaska and Alaska PREP? Incorporating the program beyond individual schools and increasing its sustainability within the state’s school system. “We’re really trying to reach out to school districts now to get the administration level to buy into the program,” Reilly says.
Developed by the RTI PREP T&TA Team for the Family and Youth Services Bureau, dedicated to supporting the organizations and communities that work to prepare young people for adulthood and end adolescent pregnancy.
About the Author
Healthy Teen Network Senior Marketing and Communications Manager Kelly Connelly, BA, is a graphic designer, photographer, and videographer, and she is experienced at developing skills-building workshops and programs, for professionals as well as youth.