Cindy Jackson of the Will County Health Department returned last week from her invitation to Washington, D. C. to speak about a Will County Health Department program.
A couple of years ago Jackson applied for an Office of Adolescent Health Teen Pregnancy Prevention grant, after it was noticed that statistics showed a much higher rate of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in the Bolingbrook area compared to all of Will County and the State of Illinois.
The grant allowed for Community Health Educators from the Will County Health Department to teach 8th and 9-12th grade health classes in the Valley View School District. Jackson was invited to speak in Washington after the program’s success caught the attention of Illinois Department of Human Services Bureau Chief Kim Fornero. Jackson was then invited to speak before Congressman Bill Foster’s staff in Washington.
“This program has done so much in the Village of Bolingbrook,” Jackson said. “Everything from bringing in Family Planning Services to educating all 8th grade and high school students in their health classes. We have trained health teachers at all the middle and high schools in the Valley View District to implement the curricula.”
In addition, the Valley View District has made a commitment to expand the Teen Pregnancy Prevention work into the Romeoville Schools as well as the Bolingbrook Schools. Jackson says there are also plans to replicate this program model in other communities in Will County, as the battle against Teen Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases continues.
Jackson says “that battle” was certainly a major reason for her trip. “It was very important to me to be able to speak to Congressman Foster’s office and let them know the importance of this program both now and how it can be used in the future. The president has proposed a major cut in the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Grant. It is important that everyone knows what positive work is being done, and what can still be done by the Will County Health Department or any other agencies interested in this grant.”