‘Conscious Choice’ program addresses teen pregnancy, graduation rates | St. Louis Public Radio

‘Conscious Choice’ program addresses teen pregnancy, graduation rates

May 7, 2015

Asia Slaughter (L) and Judith Cochran (R) joined "St. Louis on the Air" host Don Marsh.
Credit Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Judith Cochran joined “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh to discuss “Conscious Choice,” a program sponsored by the University of Missouri- St. Louis.

The program focuses on encouraging teen girls in at-risk environments to delay motherhood and graduate from high school. Participating teens that complete the program are recognized and rewarded with various gifts, including scholarships to UMSL.

Asia Slaughter, a former mentee, also discussed her experience in the program. Slaughter participated in the program while attending Roosevelt High School and is now a current UMSL student.

“What the Conscious Choice program does to help decrease [rate] the pregnancy among high school girls is that they give out information,” Slaughter explained. “They talk about knowing how to use contraceptives, and they talk about abstinence… they just present the information that a lot of us (mentees) didn’t get when we were at home or within our community.”

Cochran said teen pregnancy statistics in St. Louis exceed the average for surrounding cities and the average for the state of Missouri. However, the numbers for St. Louis are going down, she said.

Conscious Choice has since launched a co-ed version of the program in area St. Louis City middle schools to raise awareness on abstinence and teen pregnancy at earlier ages.

“I would like for [people] to know that this is a program that does make a difference in young girls’ lives,” Cochran said. “It’s a grassroots program; we could certainly use some more grassroots, and we would like some help if people are interested in all aspects that we are doing.”

For more information on how to become involved, visit the Conscious Choice website.

Listen to the audio to hear more about Slaughter’s experience.

St. Louis on the Air discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.