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Teen pregnancy prevention effort is topic

January 12, 2011

What It Takes to Achieve the Impossible, a discussion about reducing teen pregnancy in Horry County, will be presented at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 18 in Wall Auditorium at Coastal Carolina University. The event, presented by the Universitys Swain Scholars, is free and open to the public.

Forrest Alton, chief executive officer of the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, will unveil a new federally-funded initiative aimed at reducing the teen birth rate in Horry County, which is higher than state and national averages. Alton, a CCU alumnus who graduated in 1999 with a bachelors degree in health promotion, will present information about a significant grant recently acquired for Horry and Spartanburg counties. The grant provides $1.5 million each year for five years divided between the two counties to fund programs designed to reduce teen pregnancy.

According to the SC Campaign, a teen becomes pregnant in South Carolina every 49 minutes. Teen birth rates in South Carolina are consistently higher than the national average. In 2006, South Carolina had the 13th highest teen birth rate in the country among 15 to 19 year olds. The teen birth rates In Horry and Spartanburg counties are higher than the state and national average.

SC Campaign staff in each county will focus on four objectives:

* Ensuring that teens throughout each county have the opportunity to participate in programs shown to prevent teen pregnancy

* Improving access to teen-friendly reproductive health services

* Increasing public awareness and support of teen pregnancy prevention and youth development

* Promoting informed policy decisions on adolescent reproductive health

During the Swain Scholars event, Alton will focus on strategies that will be employed to reduce teen pregnancy rates in Horry County. Teen pregnancy is too complex an issue to be addressed by a single strategy or intervention, Alton said. Fortunately, the funding Horry County is receiving allows for the exploration of a more comprehensive approach to teen pregnancy prevention emphasizing research and science.

The Swain Scholars is a select group of students from the Universitys College of Science committed to the promotion of community health. According to Michael Roberts, dean of the College of Science, By working collaboratively across several disciplines, Swain Scholars seek to understand the underlying causes of various community health problems, as well as identifying community-based solutions. Each year, up to eight students are provided a scholarship and program funds to support their education, provided through a generous gift from Kenneth Swain, a retired Myrtle Beach pharmacist.

The South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to the prevention of adolescent pregnancy in South Carolina through education, technical assistance, public awareness, advocacy and research.

For more information, contact Cayci Banks at 803-767-8808 or Martha Hunn at 843-349-2962.