The People's Health Clinic, in partnership with Planned Parenthood, the Summit County Health Department, Peace House and concerned community members, began a teen sexuality series for mothers and daughters ages 9-18.
"The goal is to improve communication between moms and daughters and make it an open conversation about sexuality and changes in the body as [young women] mature," said Nann Worel, executive director of the People's Health Clinic.
Throughout the series, "Linking Lives: Mothers and Daughters," qualified doctors will speak with the young women and their mothers about sexual health, contraception options, stereotypes about sexual health and healthy relationships.
The first class of the three-part series will begin on Tuesday, April 22, from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. and is free of cost. The classes will be offered in both English and Spanish and will include a light dinner before discussions begin.
Worel said there will be group activities and then the mothers and daughters will be split up into three different rooms. Mothers, girls ages 9-13 and young women ages 14-18 will separately discuss the changes in their bodies and learn the facts about sexual health.
"Kids are going to give information to one another whether or not it's factual," Worel said. "A lot of times, the girls are surprised when information is presented, because it may have been different from something they heard 'on the street.'"
Physicians will provide both moms and daughters with factual information and answer any questions they might have. Summit County Health Department nurse practitioner Melanie Herald will present in the series and the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah is providing the rest of the line-up of doctors and physicians.
While there will be plenty of discussion about the human anatomy and what physical changes young women may be going through, there will also be discussions about how mothers can talk to their daughters about an important, and oftentimes taboo, subject.
"A lot of times moms are just very uncomfortable talking about sex. It's a hard conversation to have," Worel said. "They aren't even sure how to open the subject or approach it with their daughter, so it's a lot of sharing among the moms as well as with the doctor, an OB/GYN. The moms have a safe, confidential environment to be able to ask their questions."
The series began a year ago after a group of concerned community members felt it would benefit the town to have a place where young women could be informed as well as warned about the dangers of unprotected sex resulting in teen pregnancy.
On Feb. 25, the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization working to advance reproductive health, released a ranking of the 50 states' teen pregnancy rates in 2013. Utah was ranked 43 out of 50 with 48 out of every 1,000 teens in the state becoming pregnant between the ages of 15-19.
The good news is that according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, teen birth rates in the United States have declined almost continuously since the early 1990s, including a 6 percent drop from 2011 to 2012.
Concerned mothers in the community can attend the series with their daughters where Worel said they come together at the end of class with a transformed method of communication about sexuality and women's health.
"Their bodies are going through tremendous changes, and they need somebody to tell them what is happening to them," she added. "It's really fun to watch the moms and daughters interacting throughout the series, because they open up with each other. People just need to know if they attend the series, they are going to leave with a renewed relationship."
The series will begin Tuesday, April 22, at the People's Health Clinic at 650 Round Valley Dr. from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m. It will continue at the same place at the same time on Tuesday, April 29, and Tuesday, May 6. For more information, contact Rachelle Doucette, the People's Health Clinic's community outreach coordinator, at 435-333-1885 or firstname.lastname@example.org.