SKOWHEGAN — The Somerset County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program recently received grants from two Maine foundations and five local business and civic organizations for the 2013 program year.

According to a press release, the Maine Community Foundation awarded the program $3,000 to setup a website so the program’s unique sexuality education materials will be available at no cost to teachers, parents and health professionals. “For six years, our program has looked for ways to effectively communicate with teens in order to reduce the high rate of teen pregnancy in Somerset County,” said Anna Court, Program Coordinator in the release. “We developed what we think are powerful class outlines and handouts to teach teens to make responsible decisions about sexual behavior,” Court said. “We also developed materials for parents, school staff and health and counseling professionals to help them guide teens in these areas. We are very grateful for the Maine Community Foundation’s support for a website to offer these resources throughout Maine and beyond.”

The Hudson Foundation, based in Portland, awarded the program $5,000. “This is the third year The Hudson Foundation has supported the teen pregnancy-prevention effort in our area,” Court said. “We will use these funds to teach our Somerset County middle- and high-school students. Our classes emphasize the emotional and relationship consequences of decisions about sexual behavior.”

Court said grant will also support the program’s classes for parents and school staff and trainings for health clinics. “In a teen’s life, these are the caring adults who need to guide teens about sex. These conversations aren’t easy but they are necessary. I believe that sex is the one area in teens’ lives where they need the most guidance and get the least.”

Betty Austin, a Skowhegan selectperson and a long-term member of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Advisory Board, said local businesses and civic associations have also been generous. “This year we’ve again received contributions from Franklin Savings Bank, Franklin-Somerset Federal Credit Union, SAPPI Fine Papers, Skowhegan Family Medicine and Skowhegan Rotary. I think these contributions express the community’s realization that when teens parent before they have achieved their potential as citizens and workers, the whole community suffers.”

The program is sponsored by SCARP, Somerset County Association of Resource Providers, and collaborates closely with KVCAP and the Family Planning Association of Maine.

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