North Central Health District's Family Planning PSA Campaign Gets Recogniton
The Family Planning program of the North Central Health District recently launched a campaign to address unintended pregnancy. More specifically, the televised public service announcements and billboards target teen pregnancy.
The PSA features a teenaged couple who are kissing and considering have sex. The boy asks, "What's the worst that can happen?" The screen then splits into two scenes. The scenes on the left show the girl finding out she's pregnant, fighting with her boyfriend, driving away from the hospital alone, and struggling to finish school while working a menial job. The scenes on the right show what happens when they choose not to engage in unprotected sex. It shows the couple laughing with friends, getting ready for prom, and later getting engaged. It ends with the married girl happily announcing she's pregnant. The PSA ends with this statement, "Your future is important. Plan first."
Debbie Liby, Nursing & Clinical Director for the district, said, "The purpose of the family planning PSA is to remind anyone who watches it that all decisions have consequences. Decisions about one's sexual health need careful consideration and we know that often young people don't put enough thought into whether or not they are ready for sex."
District officials are excited about the buzz that the ad has created around the community. The PSA has been featured in news stories on Georgia Public Radio, the CBS affiliate WMAZ, and the Fox affiliate WXGA. In addition, the PSA has been shown to thousands of teens during various health forums throughout the district.
The 30 second version of the PSA is featured on local broadcast and cable stations while the 60 second version will be shown in movie theaters and is available on the district website as well as district and state office YouTube Channels. A billboard has also been developed to be placed around high schools throughout the Macon district.
Edye Tillman-Johnson, Women's Health Coordinator, says that she is pleased because she feels that teens can relate to the PSA. She said, "It's almost as if the PSA is telling a true story. Teens can clearly see the outcome of making an irresponsible choice and at the same time, see the rewards of being responsible."
Jennifer Jones, Public Information Officer who helped to create the PSA, said, "The PSA was never intended to be the magic answer to end unintended pregnancy. We are not foolish enough to think that teens who wathc the ad will automatically stop having unprotected sex. The goal of the PSA is to make the viewer think about the consequences of thier actions and start a community discussion. We want the PSA to be a conversation starter for parents, schools, community groups, and even churches to discuss what can be a difficult topic."
The District hopes that these conversations will ultimately lower some pretty dramatic statistics. While the district-wide teen pregnancy rate is very similar to the state average, some of the counties in the North Central Health District are among the highest in the state. The rates for sexually transmitted diseases within the NCHD are well over the state and national averages.
Dr. David Harvey, District Health Director, said, "While the PSA doesn't represent every teen mother's situation, we hope that the ad will be enough to make young people stop and think about what could happen if they make the choice to have unprotected sex. Our other hope is that the PSA will lead to further community discussion and collaborations and ultimately, we'll see our pregnancy and STD rates drop."
*Photo taken by Maryann Bates*