Native health group testing online sex-ed course for students

Screenshot of the new website.

The nation’s first online sexual health curriculum aimed at American Indians and Alaska Natives is in the final stages of development in Anchorage.

Sex education begins when parents provide age-appropriate information to their children about their bodies but ages 11 to 14 is a good time to talk with kids about dealing with peer pressure about sex, drugs, and alcohol. That’s according to an HIV/Sexually transmitted disease, or STD program manager, Connie Jessen.

Jessen, with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, is testing “Natives: It’s Your Game,” the nation’s first computer-based sexual health curriculum targeting Alaska Native and American Indian middle school students:

“In middle school is when there’s quite a few students that are already become sexually active and sometimes when you look at high school students, they’re so much older and already had a lot of these experiences that puts them at risk for these various health outcomes, that it’s important to do it earlier so they have the skills before they actually need them.”

Jessen says the Consortium is in the third year of a 3-year project with the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board, Indian Health Council of Arizona, and the University of Texas to develop the program. She says “Natives: It’s Your Game” uses games and music, and encourages creativity, while teaching students about abstinence, sexual health, and good decision-making.

“It also addresses healthy relationships, healthy friendships, sexual behaviors, HIV-STD prevention, alcohol and drug abuse, Internet safety, and a whole host of different topics.”

The Consortium is putting together groups of middle-school students to see how well the program works. Some will go through a science-based course on sexual and behavioral health. The other group will take part in the “It’s Your Game” curriculum. Both will be tested to find out how much they learned. For more information online, go to www.iknowmine.org/iyg

 

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