A high school girl from Lubbock, Texas becomes pregnant. She is kicked out of her home, off her soccer team, and her entire future is changed. When asked by her friend how this happened she replies, “He told me I couldn’t get pregnant the first time.” She didn’t know any better.
According to Sally Walker, director of development for Planned Parenthood Health Systems this story, and others just like it is something she and her colleagues hear all too often.
Many young people, she explained, simply don’t have the information they need to protect and empower themselves. Planned Parenthood’s primary goals are education and prevention. They do this by getting educators out in the community to equip people with knowledge and tools that will empower them and allow them to know their body.
Using donations from the community, the organization helps improve women’s health and safety, prevent unintended pregnancies, and advance the right and ability of individuals and families to make informed and responsible choices.
In 2012, 68 Virginia Tech employees donated more than $12,000 directly to Planned Parenthood through the annual Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC).
Donations keep their doors open, and they couldn’t survive without them. The education and administrative side is funded 100 percent from donations and these services couldn’t be provided without community support.
In 2011, Planned Parenthood teamed up with the Roanoke City Public Schools. The results of a parent survey led the school district to implement an age-appropriate sex education program in the middle and high schools. Since then, the school district’s teen pregnancy rate has dropped nearly 32 percent.
“Our goal is to ensure that our instructional efforts produce better informed students, male and female. When all students are armed with accurate information, they are empowered to make decisions that support their future plans, resulting in improved graduation outcomes,” said Vella S. Wright, Roanoke City Public Schools assistant superintendent for teaching and learning.
More recently, the Planned Parenthood team has begun working with parents of children with disabilities, helping ensure that the parents talk with their children about their bodies.
The Blacksburg Planned Parenthood office is one of 71 locally governed affiliates nationwide operating more than 750 health centers. In the Blacksburg Health Center, medical professionals provide a wide range of safe, reliable health care — and more than 90 percent is preventive, primary care, which helps prevent unintended pregnancies through contraception, reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections through testing and treatment, and screen for cervical and other cancers.
“People tell me that Planned Parenthood saved their lives in college when they had no health insurance. It provided them with a warm, inviting, and safe environment. It is a place where people can go to have their annual exams and receive help if they can’t afford it,” said Walker.
Please consider donating to any of the 1,000 charities participating in this year’s Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign. The online CVC Pledge System enables salaried Virginia Tech employees to make fast, easy, and secure donations via payroll deduction. All donations are tax deductible, as allowed by law.
First published on November 13, 2013.
Written by Nadia Groome, a junior majoring in communications at Virginia Tech.