After 24 hours of travel, an excited group of supervisors and Health Educators arrived in Pattaya City, a bustling coastal city south of Bangkok, on November 15, 2022. The Health Services team was invited to present their work at the four-day conference co-hosted by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health after submitting a project abstract earlier this year for an opportunity to present its digitally enhanced curriculum, In the Know (ITK). The project, developed over a five-year period, is designed to help reduce teen pregnancies and provide guidance on developing healthy relationships. The ultimate goal is to implement this innovative program with teens across the United States and beyond.
Julio Romero, Assistant Director for Fresno EOC Health Services, says ITK was designed by utilizing topics from existing Fresno EOC program curricula and updating them with contemporary themes. Then, the team took it a step further by including a technology component. We cover social media, catfishing, healthy and unhealthy relationships, gender expression, career readiness, red flags, and communicating with partners. And we hope to educate teens in a fun way by incorporating technology and interactive games. So, we figured if they’re going to be spending time on their phone or tablet, they could also be using their devices to access our free curriculum.”
Lessons are guided by a facilitator in a classroom setting. At the same time, students are on a tablet, playing a corresponding game, or visiting an informational web page and following along. For example, Julio says, “If we are talking about career readiness, they can go to our website that gives a description of different jobs and salaries. In addition, there are videos and worksheets online with topics including communication and consent. Plus, there are different educational games they can play when we’re discussing things like reproductive health or condoms. The games are referred to as “adventure games” where you make choices and learn your outcomes.”
More than 1,500 Fresno County youth, ages 14 to 19, participated in the grant-funded research study for In the Know between 2016 and 2021 to determine its effectiveness. Youth in 15 cohorts received the curriculum, which was taught in-person, and virtually during the pandemic. Health Services created the project in collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco, which served to evaluate the program, and Youth+Tech+Health (YTH), a technology partner that developed the apps and websites.
Julio says they followed up with participants after they had been in the program for four months and again ten months after they completed the lessons. “We found that our project delayed sexual initiation and increased knowledge about clinical linkages and accessing clinical services, which is huge. And we were excited to share this on a global stage!”
The team is now back home after presenting its findings and enjoying some of the sights and sounds of Pattaya City. However, the work isn’t over. Julio says they are currently moving forward with plans to ensure ITK is accessible to more teens. “What we want to do with In the Know is have it become an evidence-based program model so it can be implemented nationwide or replicated anywhere. It’s fun, interactive, and user-friendly. We’re working to get it published right now.”
YTH is packaging the research, making it a physical curriculum with a facilitator training manual and instructions on how to use it. If you would like to learn more about In the Know, visit www.intheknowinfo.org
Fresno EOC Health Services offers a wide variety of programs. They include:
- Community Health Center Clinic – a primary care and comprehensive family planning clinic on R Street in downtown Fresno
- Oral Health Education Program – provides individuals with the opportunity to learn health information, develop skills needed to make better health decisions, and lead healthy lifestyles. The program educates children and families about proper dental hygiene, nutrition, and the importance of seeing a dental provider regularly
- Adolescent Family Life Program (AFLP) – provides comprehensive case management services to pregnant and parenting teens and their children
- California Personal Responsibility Education Program (CAPREP) – provides free classes to inform and prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce high rates of sexually transmitted infections, and improve individuals’ sexual health and well being
- Tobacco Education Program – offers presentations and resources to the community about the risk of tobacco-related diseases as well as smoke-free policies
- School-Based Sealant Program – provides preventive oral health services, such as oral health education, dental sealants, and fluoride varnishes for elementary school-age children
- Home Visitation Program (HVS) – serves Medi-Cal-eligible families in Fresno County with children aged 0 to 5. We offer comprehensive family services, developmental assessments for children, and community-based referrals to resources that address the child’s and family’s overall needs. Our goal is to improve children’s development as well as the family’s overall well-being. Call (559) 715-8481 for additional information.
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