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Nationwide Children’s Hospital Receives $2.5 Million Grant from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to Expand Teen Health Programs in Columbus City Schools

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – The Office of Population Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently awarded Nationwide Children’s Hospital a $2.5 million grant to support and expand its school-based adolescent healthcare services within Columbus City Schools (CCS).

Together with partners including CCS, The Ohio State University (OSU), the City of Columbus and CelebrateOne—a community collaborative aimed at reducing the infant mortality rate—Nationwide Children’s will lead the initiative resulting in measurable change in adolescent health equity and access across Franklin County.

“Reproductive health education provides many benefits for our young people and the community at large from preventing unintended and unplanned pregnancies to helping reduce the number premature births, infant deaths and the racial disparities associated with them,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther.

During the three-year project, 7,000 seventh and eighth grade students in Franklin County are expected to be impacted. This work builds on the existing collaboration between the organizations, which includes 11 school-based health clinics in CCS and teen reproductive health education. These school-based health services will be surrounded by strong supportive programs to enhance their impact. OSU’s College of Education and Human Ecology will play a vital role in the evaluation of the project to determine the impact on Franklin County adolescents.

“We recognize this as an equity of resources issue,” said CCS Superintendent/CEO Dr. Talisa Dixon. “This grant and our strong partnerships will allow Columbus City Schools to further close the health disparities in our community by improving and expanding services to more students throughout the District who might otherwise not receive it.”

"As the founder of the commission on black girls, I am committed to supporting the social, emotional, and mental growth and well being of our girls,” said Columbus City  Councilmember Priscilla Tyson. “The TRHE Community Partnership + Federal HHS Grant supports this vision by promoting health equity and providing girls the information that they need during a critical period in their life development, ultimately improving their quality of life."

Franklin County Jobs and Family Services have funded the same curriculum in Columbus City Schools for the last two years. This grant expands the reach of access to Get Real in middle schools.

“Franklin County is elated at the prospect of expanding student access to evidence-based reproductive health education and additional supports,” said Joy Bivens, Director of Franklin County Department of Jobs and Family Services. “This work is critical to eliminating health disparities and it complements the goals of our Commissioners’ Rise Together Blueprint to Reduce Poverty in Franklin County.”

The grant will expand Nationwide Children’s work with CCS including:

·         Implementation of Get Real, an evidence-based, comprehensive reproductive health and teen pregnancy prevention curriculum that emphasizes social and emotional skills as a key component of healthy relationships and responsible decision making, in 12 Columbus City middle schools

·         Creation of a peer ambassador program for students

·         Implementation of parent programs and summer programs

·         Expansion of mobile health services to the districts’ middle schools

·         Addition of a school-based health clinic, bringing the total to 12 clinics in the district

“Franklin County adolescents face a number of reproductive health challenges. There are elevated teen birth rates in high-need communities, a growing racial disparity among teen birth rates, a county-wide epidemic of sexually transmitted infections among teens, and students’ lack of exposure to evidence-based health education curriculum,” said Tim Robinson, CEO of Nationwide Children’s. “Nationwide Children’s Hospital is committed to eliminating inequities in child health and shares a commitment with many community organizations to improve health for all children. This grant will help us achieve that goal.”

The Ohio State University, along with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, will lead the research and effects of the program.

Eric Anderman, Professor of Educational Psychology at OSU’s College of Education and Human Ecology and the project’s research lead, said “Most programs wait until high school to address these topics; the fact that we have focused our project on middle school students makes this an innovative model for the nation.”