In this recurring section of our blog, we regularly feature some of the work of our members with the hopes that the profile might inspire some new connections, ideas, and community building. If you’re a Thread STL member and interested in being a future Member Snapshot, drop us a line at info@threadstl.org.

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Meg Boyko is the Executive Director of Missouri’s Teen Pregnancy & Prevention Partnership. Based in St. Louis, TPPP works with partnerships statewide.

Member Name: Meg Boyko

Title: Executive Director

Name of partnership, coalition, or collective impact effort: Teen Pregnancy & Prevention Partnership

What is your effort trying to achieve? The Teen Pregnancy & Prevention Partnership promotes adolescent sexual health and teen pregnancy prevention by uniting Missouri through advocacy, collaboration, training and public awareness.

What do you think will change the most about your effort in the next five years? Since its peak in 1991, the teen birth rate in the U.S. has dropped 64% and the decline has been especially steep over the past few years. This is an incredible step forward for the long term health and well-being of all young people. It also presents an opportunity for the Teen Pregnancy & Prevention Partnership (TPPP) to look closely at the disparities in adolescent sexual health and determine where young people need information and support. We must look beyond teen pregnancy prevention to Positive Youth Development. My hope is that in the next five years we will reach a point where a significant number of agencies throughout Missouri take a holistic approach to adolescent sexual health that breaks down disparities in teen pregnancy and STI rates while supporting young people in reaching their goals. I believe that in the next five years TPPP will increase the number and types of partners we include in our work because it will become less about teen pregnancy prevention and, instead, focus on healthy growth and development through adolescence. Our network of members and partners will begin to talk about the value of every facet of adolescent sexual health, including healthy relationships, consent and identity, rather than focus on the negative aspects of teen pregnancy.

What are some of your strongest beliefs that support the work you do or your approach to it? I strongly believe that the foundation for a healthy future can be established in childhood and adolescence and that sexual health is an essential component of overall health. Children and teens learn about gender and relationships at an early age. If we fail to give them facts or guide them to trusted resources, we leave them to draw their own inferences from the media and their peers. If we want to see a healthy community, we must address our understanding of sexual health and encourage adults (educators and parents especially) to have age-appropriate conversations with young people. At TPPP, I want to create an environment where everyone can gain the skills and information they need to be an “askable” adult.

Why is partnership and collaboration essential in the work you do? “The community has the responsibility to provide an environment conducive for teens to make healthy decisions.” This statement is at the core of TPPP’s work and serves as our fundamental operational value. Collaboration and partnership are requirements of TPPP’s mission and vision. No one organization can speak for the whole community. We rely on our many members to bring their perspectives and insights to the table to ensure teens receive the information and support they need. There are diverse values and beliefs that impact adolescent sexual health. TPPP respects those values. When we combine evidence-based approaches to teen pregnancy prevention and sexual health with an understanding of the community, we start to create an environment that supports young people in making healthy decisions.

What’s the best way for other Thread STL members to contact you? (314) 884-8275 or executivedirector@teenpregnancy-mo.org

What’s the best way for other Thread STL members to learn more about your effort? www.teenpregnancy-mo.org or facebook.com/TPPPMO and @TPPPMO on Twitter and Instagram