Teens have plenty to worry about. From social awkwardness and rising academic expectations to struggling for independence, yet, access to information on contraception shouldn’t be one of them.
As a new initiative launched by the Detroit Health Department and Mayor’s Office, iDecide Detroit fills this gap by promoting confidential, teen-friendly and reproductive health services and supports.
To this end, iDecide Detroit is a network of teen-friendly reproductive health providers that offer teens and adults services like condoms, birth control, STD/STI testing and treatment in an effort to protect a teen’s sexual health.
While the national teen pregnancy stats appear to be on the decline, urban areas and minorities – especially African-Americans – are not reflected in the national numbers, according to Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, director and health officer for the Detroit Health Department.
“Unintended teen pregnancy is certainly a public health issue in the city of Detroit,” Khaldun says. “Although teen pregnancy rates overall have been declining across the country, in Michigan and in Detroit, there still exists a disparity between those various areas.
We want to make sure that all teens across the city of Detroit have access to the services and knowledge that they need so that they can make the right choices for themselves when it comes to their sexual health and when they want to become a parent. That’s why we’re launching this initiative.”
The iDecide Detroit initiative is collaborative in that it partners with 23 healthcare providers from all over the city. This means that even if a teen doesn’t have health insurance, they can still be provided the services they need.
The Detroit Health Department recently opened its first iDecide Teen Health Center at the Butzel Family Center at 7737 Kercheval in Detroit. To get the word out about the campaign, the Detroit Health Department and Teen HYPE are working in tandem to ensure the iDecide Detroit campaign is, at its core, youth-friendly and engaging.
Teen HYPE is a youth movement empowered to strengthen young people through evidence-based programs including health, safety, education and the arts. Detroit-based Teen HYPE youth are prominently featured in the iDecide marketing materials and website.
For good reason: “Through this project young people have been given an active role in developing an initiative that matters to them,” says Ambra Redrick, CEO of Teen HYPE. “Youth have worked side by side with adults and served as partners rather than subjects of study.
Consistently, research has shown that youth who feel empowered and supported in their communities are less likely to engage in risky behaviors. This campaign sends a strong message of investment in the well-being of Detroit’s youth.”
An investment that entails robust community engagement and involvement, including support from the faith-based community. “As a member of the faith community in Detroit, a female leader, mother and educator, I wholeheartedly support the iDecide Detroit initiative knowing this will change the trajectory of outcomes within our female teenage community,” says Bishop Corletta Vaughn, senior pastor of Holy Cathedral Church.
“As a pastor, I have seen so many girls impacted by teenage pregnancy, and as a mother, I’ve experienced it personally.” For some context: the teen pregnancy rate in Detroit is nearly 2.5 times greater than the rest of the state of Michigan and each year in Detroit, teens between the ages of 15-19 years old become pregnant.
Khaldun finds these stats not just alarming, but unacceptable and at the very least, changeable. “It’s a reproduction health access issue,” she says. “It’s a knowledge issue. What we often talk about when we talk about contraception and preventing unplanned pregnancies, we’re talking about Long Acting Reversible Contraception otherwise known as LARCS, and that is the number one recommended form of contraception that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for adolescents.”
Khaldun adds that in Detroit, about 1.8 percent of teens are using LARCS as a form of contraception, but if you contrast that across the state of Michigan, it’s a little over 3 percent and across the entire country it’s about 7 percent. The demographics, Khaldun says, tends to skew toward “folks who have access to private insurance” and “people who are more affluent.”
Some might perceive iDecide Detroit as “forcing people to get contraception,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth, Khaldun insists. “This is about working with the youth, making sure that they have options and connecting them with those options,” she says.
Walk-ins are welcome at Detroit Health Department clinics and at iDecide Detroit network partners – all visits are confidential. “We’ll be taking anyone regardless of their insurance status,” Khaldun says. “What we’ll also be doing is supporting transportation.
Transportation is a challenge in the city of Detroit – not everyone has a car, or can easily get to their medical appointment. We’re actually partnering and working with Lyft to provide transportation (for) our clients that qualify.”
When it comes to spearheading an initiative as important as iDecide Detroit, one where it’s about teen empowerment, the mission is not only possible, it has real implications for the city’s future.
“We know that young people are the future of Detroit and if we can empower them and give them the tools and services they need to be healthy, we’ll be able to have a significant impact on the future of Detroit,” Khaldun says.
iDecide Healthcare Providers:
Advantage Family Health Center (Advantage)
DMC Sinai Grace Wayne State University Physicians Group
East River Health Center (DCHC)
Feleta Wilson Health Center (DCHC)
Henry Ford – Harbortown St John’s Professional Building OBGYN
Henry Ford – New Center Corktown Health Center
Henry Ford Northwest Wayne State Health Center
Hutzel Women’s Health (Dr. Kmak)
Nolan Family Health Center (DCHC)
Oscar Pascal Health Center (DCHC)
Sophie Womack Health Center (DCHC)
Thea Bowman Health Center (Advantage)
Waller Health Center (Advantage)
Woodward Corridor Family Center (DCHC)
Youthville – Henry Ford Butzel Family Rec. iDecide Detroit (DHD)
Face-to-Face Navigation: Delray Community Center, Adams Butzel Rec and Heilmann Rec Centers
For more information on the iDecide Detroit initiative, call 833-9-DECIDE or visit idecidedetroit.com.