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Girls Inc. of Albany receives mini-grant for abstience education

A group of teenage girls from Girls Inc. of Albany display two of the 10 RealCare Baby Infant Simulators recently bought for its Preventing Teen Pregnancy program. The purchase was made possible by a mini-grant from the Governor’s Office for Children and Families. (Special photo)

A group of teenage girls from Girls Inc. of Albany display two of the 10 RealCare Baby Infant Simulators recently bought for its Preventing Teen Pregnancy program. The purchase was made possible by a mini-grant from the Governor’s Office for Children and Families. (Special photo)

ALBANY — Girls Inc. of Albany is a recipient of a mini-grant from the Governor’s Office for Children and Families (GOCF) with which it will augment its teen pregnancy program, Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy, with 10 RealCare Baby Infant Simulators by Realityworks.

The RealCare babies are dolls designed to help teens understand the responsibility of becoming a parent. Each one is equipped with computers that detect temperature, clothing and time in the car seat to carefully monitor how each participant cares for their assigned baby.

Officials say the RealCare babies, combined with the Girls Inc. Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy program, will enable Girls Inc. to provide more comprehensive teen pregnancy prevention programming for teens in Albany and surrounding counties.

“Dougherty County has a reported teen pregnancy rate of 114 per 1,000 births or (a) 52 percent rate,” said Sherrell Alexander, executive director of Girls Inc. of Albany. “This mini-grant from the Governor’s Office of Children and Families combined with funding received from the United Way (of Southwest Georgia) will help us to help lower this rate even more, ultimately improving the overall quality of life for women and girls in our community.”

The mini-grant program was announced as a new funding program for abstinence education earlier this year by GOCF as a means to help reduce pregnancy, sexual activity and sexually transmitted diseases in the teenage population. Information available from the GOCF website shows that the total funding amount available for this opportunity was $70,000, with six to 10 awards expected to go to schools and programs.

A breakdown of pregnancy rates available on the Georgia Department of Public Health Online Analytical Statistical Information System shows there were 94 pregnancies reported in 2011 among those 15-17 years of age. The 14-county area making up the Southwest Public Health District had a total of 269 pregnancies at that time within that age group, the database shows.

The county breakdown shows Baker County to be the only one in the area that year to not have reported a pregnancy from 15-17 years of age. Dougherty County had the highest number, while Thomas and Colquitt counties were tied with the second-highest number of pregnancies for that age group at 32, the database further shows.

Officials with Girls Inc. also said, that with the funding received from United Way, the organization will enable collaborations with area schools and community organizations to deliver teen pregnancy prevention programs. Schools or organizations interested in utilizing the Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy program with the RealCare babies for their teenage girls can contact Alexander at (229) 435-1897.