Teen Hub aims to reduce pregnancy level in St Thomas
The Ministry of Health and Wellness and stakeholders in St Thomas are hopeful that the establishment of a Teen Hub will greatly aid in the reduction of the parish’s high level of teenage pregnancy.
The facility, which will be the second of its kind in Jamaica, intends to offer homework help, research facilities, counselling and clinical services, as well as mental health support for teens and adolescents in the parish.
Teen Hub, which began operating in Kingston in April 2017 as a non-traditional access point, is a partnership among the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, and supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
The team broke ground for the construction of the new centre on Thursday, March 10, at a property owned by the St Thomas Municipal Corporation on 11 Church Street in Morant Bay.
Delivering the main address, State Minister in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn noted that the decision to establish the facility in eastern parish was supported by findings from the evaluation of the teen clinic at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital.
“As published in 2014, this showed an examination of births to teens within the 17 years-and-under age group for the period of 2008 to 2012. A look at the percentage of births per parish shows that for this age group, St Thomas and Hanover were parishes with the highest proportion of teen births,” she said, adding that 8.4 per cent of all births occurred to teens under 18 years old.
Cuthbert-Flynn, a daughter of the soil, shared that the Teen Hub in St Thomas is strategically placed to empower young people in their decision-making skills with the plethora of services that will be offered.
In addition to academic support, the local hub, according to the state minister, will model the centre in Kingston by providing mental health screening, counselling and referrals through a visiting psychologist.
Pregnancy screening and referrals, she shared, will be supported by the weekly presence of a nurse.
Member of Parliament for Eastern St Thomas Dr Michelle Charles welcomed the initiative as a game-changing opportunity for the parish.
“This is going to allow our teenagers to have a safe place to come and speak. It will definitely impact the numbers (of teenage pregnancies). I encourage all the teenagers, not just the girls, because someone is getting them pregnant, to utilise the services. Young men need guidance as well. Sometimes they don’t have a father at home or a mother that is easy to speak to,” she said, noting that the Teen Hub will provide a safe place for all.
Also bringing greetings was Acting United Nations Resident Coordinator Mariko Kagoshima, who acknowledged the technical and financial contributions of Spotlight Initiative, which is funded by the European Union and implemented by several UN agencies.
Kagoshima also revealed an intention to expand the Teen Hub model to at least five additional locations across Jamaica over the next five years.
Attesting to the positive impact of such facilities, young Keniesha Henry, a beneficiary of Teen Hub in Kingston, told The Gleaner that Teen Hub has aided in her holistic development.
A native of Bath in the parish, Henry also shared her belief that the initiative will aid in turning the high tide of sexual abuse in St Thomas.
According to her, “It will give young people better access to all they need to move this parish from having high rates of teen pregnancy towards having more grounded young people, who have resources to go after greatness. Having one here in St Thomas will allow many students who are not educated about sexual or personal development matters to have the opportunity to have discussions that are not only academically based.”