Since 2010, MyPower, Inc. has worked with more than 9,206 5th – 9th grade girls in its MyPower Elementary Mentoring Circles, the MyPower Middle School Edition, and MyPower–Quantum Leadership Camps to empower girls to make wise choices, set goals, succeed academically, and avoid teen pregnancy. We are serving 1,634 students this year.
Recent teen pregnancy statistics released by the New Mexico Department of Health are encouraging for Lea County. The Hobbs Municipal Schools (HMS) previously announced a huge drop in the number of pregnant high school girls, a 20-year low, despite a record number of students enrolled in HMS.
Addressing the tough issues and alarming statistics for STD’s and teen pregnancy in Lea County, MyPower has worked closely with the Hobbs Municipal Schools (HMS) to implement major changes in the sex education program for 7th – 10th graders. This change to Abstinence PLUS information, evidenced-based programs was exciting news for the Hobbs community. Science and health teachers teach factual information, and parents can choose to “opt-out” their children from the program. MyPower advocated for this change and commends the HMS Board for implementing the new policy.
MyPower’s Mentoring Circles work with girls in their last year of elementary school (5th grade) in the following eight elementary schools: Southern Heights, Jefferson, Will Rogers, Broadmoor, Edison, College Lane, Mettie Jordan (Eunice), and Jal Elementary. These Circles are held after school from January-April, once a week, for 12 weeks. 50 women volunteer their time to make this program possible each year. We have 204 students participating in the 2020 MyPower Mentoring Circles.
MyPower Quantum Leadership Camps have had 2,409 middle school girls participate in exciting life skills and academic strategy camps at the University of the Southwest campus, Hobbs High School, Freshman Commons, and the Training Center since 2010. These annual camps are held in late summer right before school starts. Quantum Learning Network of California facilitates the camps, with MyPower providing all logistics. Many of the hired facilitators are teachers, who are provided with hands-on teaching strategies to later implement in their classroom. In July 2019, MyPower-Quantum Leadership Camps had four camps simultaneously for 282 students in the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grades.
MyPower was founded in 2009 specifically to address Lea County’s alarming teen pregnancy and STD rates. New Mexico has consistently moved between 1st and 3rd place nationally. As of 2018, New Mexico ranks #8 in the United States for teen births. The U.S. leads the industrial world in teen births. While rates are down in Lea County since 2009, there is still a long way to go.
High teen pregnancy rates hurt communities, as less than 1/3 of teens who begin families before 18 ever complete high school; only 2% of teen mothers complete college before age 30; and the children of these parents are often not ready for school themselves and are more at risk for child abuse. In New Mexico, the gross impact of teenage parenting is more than $100 million annually (Source: Power to Decide). Single women who have a baby during the teen years are also at a high risk of poverty.
MyPower’s program is Abstinence PLUS information, and is designed to help empower girls in grades 5-8 to successfully navigate the teen years by empowering them to make wise choices, set goals, succeed academically, and avoid risky sexual behavior and teen pregnancy. These youth development programs provide girls with straight talk about issues they will face as they enter the teen years. MyPower uses tools such as refusal skills, training and practice with real life situations to prepare these girls.
Specifically, our Abstinence PLUS Information curriculum works to empower girls to think about their goals, and it presents very straight talk concerning sexual issues, including basic facts of life, the importance of waiting, teen STD and teen birth statistics, how to prevent STDs, birth control options and the facts about common myths. MyPower’s straight talk and Abstinence PLUS Information mentoring programs give girls the answers to their questions about the consequences of risky sexual behavior. MyPower utilizes area nurses and doctors who volunteer their time to present the anatomy and facts of life sessions, as well as the teen pregnancy and STD issue in the community.