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Jessica “J.R.” Chester to Receive 2022 Healthy Teen Network Outstanding Former Young Parent Award

With her background as a sexual health educator and her lived experience as a former repeat teen parent, J.R. has made it her life’s mission to help individuals and families achieve optimal pre-conception, pregnancy, birth, and parenting experiences.

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August 26, 2022

Healthy Teen Network is pleased to announce Jessica Ray (J.R.) Chester as winner of the 2022 Outstanding Former Young Parent Award. (Learn more about our awards and past awardees on our conference website.)

Jessica ‘J.R.’ Chester currently serves as a Program Director for Healthy Futures of Texas. She oversees the Texas Youth-Friendly Initiative and Texas Is Ready programs. Inside and outside of this role, J.R. is an advocate for birth equity. She provides care as a certified birth doula, certified lactation counselor, child birth educator, and certified child passenger safety technician to growing families. With her background as a sexual health educator and her lived experience as a former repeat teen parent, she has made it her life’s mission to help individuals and families achieve optimal pre-conception, pregnancy, birth, and parenting experiences through informed decision making, reproductive life planning, equitable access to care, education, and support.  

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When asked about her passion for this work, J.R. said: “Mortality rates are high for birthing people in the U.S. However, black and brown birthers and their babies have disproportionately higher rates of mortality and morbidity during pregnancy, during the early postpartum period, and during the first year of life. This work is important to me, because I know that it saves lives.” She explained, “…My own personal pregnancy, birthing, and postpartum experiences are what motivated me to become a birth doula, lactation consultant, childbirth educator, and even child passenger safety technician. I knew what kind of experiences I wanted to have, and for some reason, I was not ‘given’ the autonomy and authority to bring those desires to fruition. I decided to empower myself through education and practice, so I could create the pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experiences that I wanted for myself. The bonus is that I get to help others do the same by teaching them about their options and rights, as well as how to advocate for themselves, their loved ones, and their babies.”

“…My own personal pregnancy, birthing, and postpartum experiences are what motivated me to become a birth doula, lactation consultant, childbirth educator, and even child passenger safety technician. I knew what kind of experiences I wanted to have, and for some reason, I was not ‘given’ the autonomy and authority to bring those desires to fruition.”

The Outstanding Former Young Parent Award is presented to a former young parent who has risen to the challenges of early parenting, has achieved extraordinary personal and/or professional success, and demonstrates phenomenal leadership. As an advocate for birth equity and committed community member, J.R. Chester embodies this award. When asked about this accomplishment J.R. said, “I am honored to be the recipient of [this award]. I, like many other young parents, have raised children who are even more outstanding than ourselves. That is what I am most proud of. This award means that I have worked hard to contribute to and create a society in which Skylar, Ivory, Kameron, Ava, and Jessika [children of young parents] can excel.”

Healthy Teen Network will present J.R. with the 2022
Outstanding Former Teen Parent Award at #HealthyTeen22, our annual national conference, to be held October 17-19. Join us in Miami as we Dare to Dream of a New Era

At Healthy Teen Network, we believe that every young person has a right to live their authentic sexuality. And we see you, the professionals and caring adults, helping them do this. We know you do your best when you're connected to great opportunities and resources. That's why we're here...to help make those connections and support you. Read more about us.