Addressing the ReproductiveHealth Needs of Very YoungAdolescents My Changing Body: Fertility Awareness for Young People EX...
Why Very YoungAdolescents and Sexual& Reproductive Health?• Adolescent sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is  recognized...
My Changing BodyAddresses gaps in life skills and materialsfor use in VYA programs • Fertility awareness • Body literacy  ...
What did the formativeresearch tell us?• There is low knowledge  regarding fertility and  reproductive processes  among bo...
Challenges facing young people: Whatdo parents think? What do childrenthink?ISSUES                     PARENT BOYS   GIRLS...
What does having a boyfriend/girlfriendmean to you?
Poor fertility awareness and body literacy                             “If you haven’t ejaculated by the time you are     ...
Six Interactive Sessions for VYAs andParents                                   Puberty: My Body, My SelfMy Changing Body S...
Activity: “Alex”
Activity: “Alex”All cultures have traditional roles assigned towomen and men. These are based on socialexpectations, not o...
Results•    Led to significant increases     in knowledge and awareness     of developmental     changes, including fertil...
Final Reflectionson My ChangingBody• Six sessions can cause significant  changes in fertility awareness, body  literacy an...
Questions• How do adolescents in your community  learn about sexual and reproductive  health?• What reproductive health-re...
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CCIH 2012 Conference Family Planning Pre-Conference Lauren VanEnk, Addressing the Reproductive Health Needs of Very Young Adolescents

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Lauren VanEnk of the Institute for Reproductive Health explains why very young adolescents need counseling about puberty and their reproductive health and how the IRH My Changing Body program addresses this need.

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  • The messages that adolescents hear from society about their bodies and their identity as boys and girls influence them for the rest of their lives. Take a look at this photo and remember just how young children in this age range are. Even then, it is critical to begin receiving positive information about one’s body, gender identity, and fertility awareness.The VYA age group presents a window of opportunity to intervene before most youth become sexually active and before gender roles and norms with negative SRH consequences become solidified. The knowledge, awareness and skills aquired during this time will set the stage forfuture relationships and communication with sexual partners about rights and responsibilities and for developing self-care practices and behaviors to prevent unwanted sexual relationships, unintended pregnancy, and disease.
  • The Institute for Reproductive Health at Georgetown University developed the “My Changing Body” curriculum to increase body literacy and fertility awareness among very young adolescents. My Changing Body was originally developed by IRH in collaboration with Family Health International (FHI), and has been recently revised (My Changing Body: Puberty and Fertility Awareness for Young People, 2nd Edition). A corollary set of participatory exercises for parents improves their understanding of puberty-related issues and builds their skills to support their children with these issues. Take home exercises also help facilitate communication between young adolescents and their parents.Partnering with youth-serving organizations in both Guatemala (APROFAM) and Rwanda (CRS), IRH implemented interactive sessions designed to teach girls and boys ages 10 to 14 about puberty, including fertility and the body, self-image, gender norms and roles, communication, protective and risk behaviors, and relationships in and outside the home. Fertility awareness and body literacy enable young people to recognize how their sexual and reproductive selves are influenced by gender and social norms and help facilitate safe passage through puberty and prepare youth to care for their health and that of their partners.
  • Baseline results demonstrated similarities in both countries: low levels of knowledge regarding puberty, especially fertility, discomfort with puberty-related changes and lack of awareness of how gender influences sexual and reproductive health (SRH) choices.
  • As we all know, many people have reservations about sexual and reproductive health education for young people. We rarely dialogue about the issues that are of actual concern to girls, boys and parents as well as the fact that these issues change as young people go through adolescence.For VYAs and their parents, what ARE the issues that need to be addressed in a reproductive health curriculum for youth?Parents and youth differed on their greatest concerns related to sexuality and puberty.
  • This word cloud shows the combined responses from boys and girls which flowed from group story telling about the “romance” of a boy and girl their age. The key message here is what we have shared with programs about these findings is the need to address what sexuality means to this younger age group, rather than assuming that they are the same as those salient to older adolescents, such as prevention of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. Sexual abuse, and gender-based violence also emerged as critical issues for both parents and children.
  • As you can see in his slide, fertility awareness and body literacy is poor. This lack of knowledge is reflected in their feelings and attitudes about their bodies. Gender and sexual norms influence responses to changes during puberty among both children and adults.These results come primarily from discussion related to body mapping and story telling.
  • The curriculum, which includes participatory learning and action exercises, consists of six sessions exploring the following themes: Physical and emotional changes experienced by both boys and girls during puberty How and when puberty occursPhysical development and body image Sexual feelings The process of conception and the definition of female and male fertilityMyths around female and male fertility The process of fertilization Signs of fertility Practices for maintaining good hygieneSocially-constructed and expected gender roles and their influence on decision making and interactions Communication with parents and peers about puberty
  • As demonstrated by the results, the needs of VYAs are different from older adolscents. It is important to remember that curricula or programs targeting older adolescents may not be applicable for this age group but VYAs cannot be left out of youth programing for SRH.
  • CCIH 2012 Conference Family Planning Pre-Conference Lauren VanEnk, Addressing the Reproductive Health Needs of Very Young Adolescents

    1. 1. Addressing the ReproductiveHealth Needs of Very YoungAdolescents My Changing Body: Fertility Awareness for Young People EXPANDING FAMILY PLANNING OPTIONS
    2. 2. Why Very YoungAdolescents and Sexual& Reproductive Health?• Adolescent sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is recognized as an important area but little progress has been made to develop programs for very young adolescents (VYAs).• The period from10-14 years old corresponds to a time of critical development for adolescents.• It is a time when sexual and gender identities are formed.• VYAs form attitudes and skills which become the foundation for wellbeing and SRH.• Best practices for program implementation and evaluation have been developed and are increasing in
    3. 3. My Changing BodyAddresses gaps in life skills and materialsfor use in VYA programs • Fertility awareness • Body literacy • physical /emotional changes • Influence of gender norms on sexual and reproductive selves
    4. 4. What did the formativeresearch tell us?• There is low knowledge regarding fertility and reproductive processes among both boys and• girls. and girls experience discomfort around Boys puberty-related changes, and parents are uneasy discussing these changes with children.• Traditional gender roles influence perceptions regarding puberty. Poor body literacy and fertility awareness reinforce
    5. 5. Challenges facing young people: Whatdo parents think? What do childrenthink?ISSUES PARENT BOYS GIRLS SSchool, grades X X XAdapting to changes X X Xduring pubertyPregnancy, STIs XViolence, rape XSafety, love, protection XFamily well-being X X
    6. 6. What does having a boyfriend/girlfriendmean to you?
    7. 7. Poor fertility awareness and body literacy “If you haven’t ejaculated by the time you are 25, the sperm enters your head and you could become crazy or die”. 10-12 year old boy, Madagascar Parents and older youth recognize that masturbation is a common way to deal with sexual desire, but disagree on whether it is moral or healthy. Madagascar and GuatemalaGender and sexual norms influenceresponses to changes during puberty“I almost fainted when I saw the blood.” 13-14 year old girl,Guatemala“If you ejaculate and you don’t know what itis, you’re wondering what is this? 10-12 year old boy,
    8. 8. Six Interactive Sessions for VYAs andParents Puberty: My Body, My SelfMy Changing Body Sessions Female and Male Fertility Combining Female and Male Fertility: Fertilization Concerns about My Fertility: Female and Male Group Discussions Hygiene and Puberty Review Instructions for Parents
    9. 9. Activity: “Alex”
    10. 10. Activity: “Alex”All cultures have traditional roles assigned towomen and men. These are based on socialexpectations, not on the natural abilities ofwomen and men.As our world changes, the social expectationschange as well. For girls and boys to grow intohealthy women and men, we must look at thesetraditional roles and expectations, and changesome of them so that we can work together asequals in improving our lives and the lives of ourcommunities.Many traditional female and male roles existregarding sex and sexuality, and the My
    11. 11. Results• Led to significant increases in knowledge and awareness of developmental changes, including fertility.• Led to a positive impact on parent-child communication.• Experimental group participants were more aware of gender roles than those in the control group and more likely to challenge traditional gender roles.• Participants recognized that their lifestyle is governed by social norms. They began to question these norms and believe in the
    12. 12. Final Reflectionson My ChangingBody• Six sessions can cause significant changes in fertility awareness, body literacy and parent-child communication.• Understanding gender is essential to ensuring the health and wellbeing of VYAs—the challenge is making the discussions relevant and practical.• Before implementing a youth program, conduct formative research so the curriculum can be adapted to the cultural
    13. 13. Questions• How do adolescents in your community learn about sexual and reproductive health?• What reproductive health-related topics do YOU think adolescents should learn? And at what age?

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