Christina Gonzales, a graduate of Fallbrook High School and resident of Pala, is one of two teen pregnancy prevention educators in this region looking for new ways to make a positive impact on students that attend a continuation school in the Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District.
Employed by Indian Health Council (IHC), Gonzales and Randy Boston recently coordinated a free-throw basketball challenge at the tenth-through-twelfth grade Oak Glen High School, which has a student population of 55 to 60 students.
“This is something new,” said Gonzales. “It’s a side project that takes the kids out of the classroom and has them do more physical activities. They seem to open up [with this type of activity.]”
IHC is an association of nine tribes dedicated to following a holistic approach to Indian health and well-being.
IHC provides a full spectrum of on-site and outreach services and programs to the reservations of Inaja-Cosmit, La Jolla, Los Coyotes, Mesa Grande, Pala, Pauma, Rincon, San Pasqual, and Santa Ysabel.
The outreach program Gonzales and Boston head up is funded by a Community Challenge Grant (CCG) from the California Department of Public Health.
CCG aims to bring awareness to teens about sexual decision making.
The educators offer an eight-week program that discusses sex in the media, gender reproductive anatomy, substance abuse, contraceptives and more. Students can gain knowledge and understanding of young adult issues while receiving more one-on-one counseling and encouragement to ask questions.
“This is our way of getting closer to the students,” said Gonzales. “If we do sports with them, they may trust us more.”
They’re calling the program “prevention education through sports.”
The first sports activity Gonzales and Boston arranged for the students was a staff versus students kick-ball challenge.
“They outnumbered us,” Boston laughed as he threw a couple shots at the hoop with Gonzales on the school’s basketball court. “It was a good thing.”
Before heading to her fifth period dance class, Leticia Santiago, 17, said she was embarrassed at first to ask questions during the sex education classes, but now she has more confidence and isn’t afraid to talk about such sensitive subject matter.
“I’ve learned a lot about how to be safe,” she said.
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