Holyoke Works to Reduce Teen Pregnancy
As part of National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, educators, mentors and parents are reminding students teen pregnancy is preventable.
“Holyoke has had the highest rate of teen pregnancy in this state for the last 10-12 years,” says Katie Liptak, commissioner for the Holyoke Board of Health.
“You Have Choices” is a collaboration between youth agencies throughout the city, highlighting the struggles of teen parenthood.
“My brother was a teen parent, he had his first kid at 14 and I’ve seen the struggles that he went through,” says Hectsy Robles, a student at Dean Technical High School in Holyoke.
Program organizers say these stories make the biggest impact.
“There’s challenges and you’re giving up your whole childhood, you know,” says Robles. “You have to grow up and act the age you’re not and it’s hard.”
“The most important thing is to delay parenthood, stay in school and get an education,” says Liptak. “Holyoke schools support that.”
The most recent data shows that while there’s still work to be done, educators are making progress.
“The 2010 data showed a 14 percent drop from the 2009 data, so we are now 83 teen births per 1,000 in Holyoke,” says Liptak.
City leaders are now waiting on new teen pregnancy rates data, which should be released in the next month.