SCAPPI presents the T-Tops Program - Teaching Teens Outstanding Parenting Skills - each year to serve the pregnant and parenting population.
In 2010, nearly 10 percent of the girls between the ages of 10 and 17 in Sullivan County got pregnant. That number is one of the major reasons the Sullivan County Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, or SCAPPI, exists.
SCAPPI is a cooperative effort between city, county and community partners that serves the needs of three distinct groups of kids: abstinent teens, who don’t have to worry about sexually transmitted diseases or unplanned pregnancies; sexually active teens, to whom they provide information and knowledge which hopefully helps them make good choices; and lastly, pregnant and parenting teens, many of whom have a lot to learn and may not know where to go for help.
"I consider one teen pregnancy too many, and kids need to know that every action has its consequences, but if they’ve already make that decision and want to make their lives better, we want them to know we have resources and people willing to work with them," said Linda Brittenham, the Tennessee Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Coordinator.
Funded through a state of Tennessee grant, SCAPPI has three primary goals: to promote community awareness and involvement in adolescent pregnancy and parenting issues; to facilitate the collaboration among various sectors of the community to enhance and increase pregnancy prevention efforts; and to coordinate, improve and expand services available to pregnant and parenting adolescents.
"Parents are the most influential people in a child’s life and we hope they use that power in educating their kids, but not all families have the same makeup, so we’ve got to provide resources to fill those gaps," Brittenham said.
About four years ago, SCAPPI discovered that there was a particular need in services for the pregnant and parenting population and began the T-Tops Program - Teaching Teens Outstanding Parenting Skills.
Once held at Elizabeth Chapel United Methodist Church, the program has since moved to Celebration Church to accommodate the increasing number of caring organizations who have joined in to help educate adolescent mothers and fathers.
"We work with state agencies, the court system, the school systems, and many other agencies, organizations and businesses to improve their lives by offering instruction and education in a variety of parenting skills. Topics include child safety, patience, sleeping habits and positions of infants, budgeting money, how to swaddle a child or change a diaper. Individually, any one of these tasks can be daunting and, when combined, they can be overwhelming for a young parent. The choices they make determine the path they take, but we can help them be the best parents they can be," Brittenham lovingly said.
"Everyone has the opportunity to reach a teen and say 'I care.' That’s the basic foundation for a lot of these kids. As adults we are all teachers, we need to be compassionate and we need to encourage good decision-making. By giving these kids hope, showing them positive effects of having a good attitude and helping them develop their self-esteem, we play a major role in the successful outcomes of their lives. We want these youngsters to know the community is there for them, that they are important to us and we care about them."
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