Need: Teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, in young girls were concerns for members of Union Parish, Louisiana.
Intervention: Union General Hospital, a Critical Access Hospital, created the program It's a Girl Thing: Making Proud Choices to teach prevention, self-confidence, and personal responsibility to teen girls.
Results: Teen pregnancy rates in Union Parish have dropped by 18%, exceeding the program's initial goal of 5%. Graduation rates have also increased the longer girls remain in the program.
Through a Community Health Needs
Assessment conducted in 2012, a steering committee found
that teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases,
including HIV, were a concern among rural community
members of Union Parish, Louisiana. Union General Hospital (UGH),
a Critical Access Hospital (CAH), took the lead in
starting a program that makes prevention education a
priority at the hospital and in the parish's schools.
It's a Girl
Thing: Making Proud Choices kicked off in the fall of
2013. According to their website, its purpose is to help
6th through 12th grade girls
"acquire the knowledge and skills for taking charge of
and making informed decisions about their sexual health,
exploring values, practicing responses in different
situations, and thinking about their futures." Program
leaders provide participants with skills to acquire
positive attitudes and beliefs about self-worth by
tackling everyday issues the girls face.
It's a Girl Thing meetings are held monthly at the
hospital, weekly at Farmerville Jr. High School, and
twice a month at Farmerville High School. Discussion
Developing Your Sense of Worth
Rights, Respect and Responsibilities
The Consequences of Teen Pregnancy
Health information is regularly taught in order to
guide the girls in setting personal health goals.
UGH offers mental health and suicide risk assessments
to It's a Girl Thing participants as well as referrals to
appropriate services as needed.
When available, UGH offers a summer job spot to one
of the program's outstanding participants.
UGH offers one $1,000
scholarship annually to one of the program's high school
seniors who has met certain criteria and shown personal
responsibility in making proud choices.
Since the beginning of the program, parents have reported
seeing a difference in their daughters who participated
in the program and the girls have succeeded in making
proud choices. Below are specific results:
Over 300 girls have enrolled in the program
Union Parish teen pregnancy rates have dropped by
18%, exceeding the program's initial goal of 5%
School attendance rates from
program participants have increased and pregnancy rates
have decreased the longer girls remain in the program:
Out of 1-year participants: 24
graduated high school and 3 became pregnant
Out of 2-year participants: 38 graduated high
school and 2 became pregnant
Out of 3-year participants: 43 graduated high
school and 2 became pregnant
Because of the success of this program, UGH recently
added another component that helps prevent drug, alcohol,
and tobacco use in youth. UGH's anti-bullying program
We Can Be Bully Free is also featured in the RHIhub
Rural Health Models and Innovations.
Awards received by It's a Girl Thing: Making Proud
Named a 2016 "Program
of Excellence" by the Jackson Healthcare Foundation's
Hospital Charitable Services Awards, of 10 awards given
out from of over 200 nominees.
Named a 2015 "Program
of Promise" by the Jackson Healthcare Foundation's
Hospital Charitable Services Awards, one of 4 awards
given out from over 200 nominees.
Local ministers were requesting It's a Girl Thing: Making
Proud Choices to work with boys in the community. In
response, UGH provided funding to bring in an
evidence-based program to train 10 male leaders from the
community to start a similar program for boys called
Making Proud Choices.
The following key principles for replication come from
the experience of the It's a Girl Thing program:
Because of the sensitivity of topics discussed in
programs like It's a Girl Thing, leaders should pay
attention to gender-specific issues and offer education
and advice in a compassionate manner.
What works in one community might not work in
another. Looks for way to cater a reputable program to
your community's cultural and religious beliefs.
Form your leadership from people who represent
various cultures in your community. Choose leaders who
are already active in the community and have gained the
trust of other groups and organizations.
Be willing to take a door-to-door approach, making
phone calls and grass-roots efforts to promote your
program. Create your own marketing plan and promotion
strategy. Utilize marketing mediums where young girls are
present, including social media, internet, schools, and
Recruit volunteers from the community and hospital
who care about young girls and want to see them succeed.
Passion is the key to making a
program like this take off. Let your excitement come
through in your program organization and recruitment.
UGH has included the following items in the It's a Girl
Thing: Making Proud Choices Personal Information
Parent permission slip
"All About Me" sheet for completion by the
An agreement that explains the personal commitment a
participant is making by joining the program
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information
about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The
programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural
community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s
needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep
in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.