‘Making Proud Choices!’ Program Targets At-Risk Teens in Belmont, Jefferson and Harrison Counties

The Belmont County Health Department is launching a new program to help vulnerable adolescents make good decisions.

Linda Mehl, director of nursing, spoke about the state-funded “Making Proud Choices!” initiative Monday at the Belmont County Board of Health’s monthly meeting.

She said the program is directed to teens, ages 14-18, who are being held in juvenile justice facilities or are in the foster care system.

Under a state grant, Belmont County is partnering with health departments in Perry and Noble counties to offer this program in 11 counties. She said the Belmont County Health Department is responsible for implementing the project in Belmont, Jefferson and Harrison counties.

The program is geared to prevention of teen pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases. Information also is provided to help adolescents as they transition into adulthood, she said.

For instance, the curriculum covers financial matters, such as opening and maintaining checking and savings accounts; job skills, such as preparing a resume and appropriate behavior during interviews; and advice for developing healthy relationships.

Meanwhile, Mehl said the health department is working with school nurses on an educational program to promote immunization against childhood diseases. The project is funded through a “Get Vaccinated” state grant.

The health department is educating school nurses on requirements for immunizations and record-keeping, as well as assessing schools’ records, she said. To date, sessions have been conducted at schools in Shadyside, Bridgeport and Bellaire.

Mehl also said the nursing staff is working on a presentation for Belmont County Juvenile Court on the dangers of vaping. The target audience will be youth who have been caught using electronic cigarettes or other vaping devices.

In other matters, Robert Sproul, deputy health commissioner, said Mary Magers has retired from the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program after 30-plus years of employment.

Also, Rich Lucas, director of environmental health, said most food service operations in the county received their yearly licenses before the March 1 deadline. As a result, very few late penalties were assessed this year.

Lucas said the environmental health staff participated in a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency training exercise that simulated a leak into the Ohio River from a condenser storage facility. In such a scenario, officials take public water samples and inspect municipal water intake systems.

The board of health’s next meeting will be held at noon April 8 at the health department, 68501 Bannock Road, St. Clairsville.

COMMENTS