Stories behind the numbers
WORTHINGTON — From 2009 to 2011, Nobles County had the state’s second highest pregnancy rate for girls between ages 15 to 19, according to Teenwise Minnesota Executive Director Judith Kahn.
To address this issue, Teenwise Minnesota and Southwestern Minnesota Opportunity Council (SMOC) are partnering together to host a focus group — the Greater Minnesota Listening Project —from 4 to 7:30 p.m. March 20 at the Holiday Inn Express, 1250 Ryan’s Road.
“The data only tells us part of the story,” Kahn said. “We want to hear what’s going on in the community and hear the story behind the data.”
The statewide combined pregnancy rate from 2009 to 2011 is 30 per 1,000 girls. It was 60 per 1,000 in Nobles County, according to Kahn.
“I know in Nobles County there were various projects and organizations in place that helped address this issue,” Kahn said. “For example, the Sexually Healthy Youth (SHY) coalition worked very hard to prevent teen pregnancy and address issues facing teens today.
“Basically what we want to do at the focus group is to see if there is any interest in starting that conversation again about the issues facing our youths,” she added.
The listening session will discuss the success and challenges young people experience, specifically around their sexual health. In April, Teenwise will follow up with a phone interview with each participant to get a better picture of the individual’s perspective on these issues.
Once a report is complete, Teenwise will return to Worthington to share and discuss the findings with focus group participants and other community leaders.
“We’re looking for professionals in multiple disciplines, not just sex education,” Kahn explained. “Anyone who works with youths or in human services, we would hope they could come and participate. It takes everyone to support youth health, so we hope people from all different professions can attend.”
Teenwise has already hosted similar focus groups in three cities in northern Minnesota. There are already common themes developing, she said.
“We’re on the follow-up phone interview with participants’ part of the study, and there are certainly some issues specific to the area, but there are also similar issues that are occurring in all the areas,” she explained. “I hope that we can develop some themes in Worthington so we can better understand the problem.”
There is no charge to participate, and dinner will be provided. The focus group is limited to 25 people, but there is still plenty of space available.
To register to participate in the Greater Minnesota Listening Project, visit www.teenwisemn.org/lp-worthington.
Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.