Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wood County teens text health officials to learn about sex - WAOW

WISCONSIN RAPIDS (WAOW) -

In hopes to help lower the jump in teen pregnancy rates, Wood County Health Department is providing sex education through text messages.

Now a year later since the service was developed, hundreds of teenagers are turning to their cell phones for help.

The Wood County Health Department is reaching more than 300 teens through its Text It Line. A service that educates young adults on just about anything related to sex.

"We can help them make a better decision, and maybe not have so many teen pregnancies," said Leah Meidl, a Wood County health official.

It's a free service that teen mom, Kaitlyn McHugh, said she wishes was around when she needed it.

"At the time, I was only on the birth control pill, and if you don't take it you're a lot more likely to get pregnant," said McHugh.

Now, McHugh has a two-year-old daughter.

McHugh said she got involved with promoting Text It to help others who don't know much about contraception.

"It hasn't been easy, you can't do what normal teenagers do, I had to miss prom," said McHugh.

But, not everyone is happy about Text It. Some parents, like Machelle Eschmann said its not an alternative she would want her children to turn to.

"Absolutely not, I don't want my children, my children to go to that person to make that phone call or make that text," said Eschmann.

The Text It Line is anonymous. Anyone can use it. But, Wood County health officials said they encourage teens to talk to their parents about sex first.

"That's definitely what we would prefer they do, but we know sometimes that can be difficult, and so if there's a questions they want to talk about, we're here to answer those questions," said Meidl.

And with a rising teen pregnancy rate in Wood County, officials said the tool can have a big impact. 

The Wood County Health Department is planning outreach events in August to let young adults and adolescents know about the Text It Line.

To learn more about the Text It Line go to facebook.com/textitline or contact Leah Meidl at lmeidl@co.wood.wi.us. 

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