In the past 15 years, there have been only three reported pregnancies involving teenagers who have participated at the Pathways Senderos Center in New Britain. That's great news, says those who run the program.
New Britain ranks second among cities and towns in the state of Connecticut, behind Hartford, for having the highest teen pregnancy rate.
The center has programs designed for kids between the ages of 10 and 18. Topics addressed include sexual education and abstinence.
"Our mission is to eliminate teen pregnancy by addressing its root causes," said Roseanne Bilodeau, Executive Director of the center. She added that some of the causes are poverty, poor educational bonding between teens and parents, and family patterns of teen pregnancy and domestic violence.
"We become the second family and all the children consider us their second home," Bilodeau explained. "For a number of the kids, they might spend more of their time here than they actually do at home," she added.
The center is a nurturing place, according to the teens there. "You go home and you have some work, and your mom doesn't know it and you can just come here and get it done," exclaimed 15-year old Emilio Martinez. Another 15-year old participant, Krystal Garcia echoed the comments, "I like it. It's pretty cool."
The teens on Arch Street said they are exposed to pregnancies at school.
"I've seen friends coming to school with big bellies, and friends crying because they got a girl pregnant," said Dudley Holt, another 15-year old student attending Pathways Senderos.
Bilodeau said the program teaches kids to have goals and prepare for successful futures. "We'll do whatever we can to help kids get through this time as safely as they possibly can," she said.
Martinez agreed with the program director, "before this program, I was usually hanging outside, hanging around with the same people throwing snowballs at cars." Now, he said, he comes to the center and spends time on the computer and other productive activities.
The Pathways Senderos Center is part of the New Britain Teen Pregnancy Prevention project.