Health education research explores ways to discuss sexual health
Written by Dell Billings
Faculty and students in The Laboratory for Community Health Evaluation & Systems Science are collaborating with organizations in Oklahoma aimed at reducing teen pregnancy and improving adolescent health.
This project, called the SPARK Innovation Oklahoma City Network, trains a cohort of organizations in human-centered design and systems thinking to develop innovative programs and strategies that specifically target those working in teen pregnancy prevention. SPARK focuses on having open conversations about sexual health, the norm for caregivers.
The relationship with CHESS and SPARK started with a previous partnership. CHESS evaluated the Central Oklahoma Teen Pregnancy Prevention Collaboration, the grantor of the SPARK Innovation Network, using systems-based approaches.
Sonya Panjwani, project manager and senior research associate for CHESS, explains the lab offered expertise in community health development, system science and evaluation to support the collaborative.
“Based on the CHESS lab’s previous work and expertise in network analysis and community-based evaluation from 2018 to 2020, the collaboration subcontracted part of their evaluation work with us,” Panjwani says. “We have so far collected baseline data on the Network and will monitor how the Network grows over time.”
The grant is over $550,000 for a three-year evaluation period. Each cohort will be trained in the development of innovative programs, systems thinking and human-centered design.
The training creates innovative, equitable and sustainable strategies and projects to empower and equip caregivers with the tools they need to provide a supportive home environment, educate and communicate with their adolescents about sexual health and assist in preventing unintended teen pregnancies.
The SPARK Innovation OKC Network aims at bringing together multiple organizations in the Oklahoma County community to develop innovative programs that increase involvement of parents and caregivers of adolescents in teen pregnancy prevention efforts.
“This project fits perfectly into the overall goal of the CHESS Lab; to utilize community-based approaches to make changes at the systems-level that are sustainable and make lasting changes within a community,” Panjwani says. “We hope to see a more connected community that is working to improve adolescent health, and through these shared connections, an ultimate reduction in the teen pregnancy rate in Oklahoma County.”
Learn more about SPARK.
Learn more about the Laboratory for Community Health Evaluation & Systems Science (CHESS).
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