Karen Youth Health Education Program

WellShare’s Karen Youth Health Education Program was born out of a collaborative relationship with KOM (Karen Organization of Minnesota) that began during a 2012 community-based research project on reproductive health and family planning beliefs/practices in the Karen refugee population. Based on the study results, WellShare and KOM identified several opportunities for community education and conversation around reproductive health, family planning and health care access. Over the past four years, KOM and WellShare have worked together to develop and implement holistic, culturally-appropriate classes that address knowledge gaps, educational desires and participant-identified concerns regarding health and access to care. The two in-school curricula (12 sessions each), which focus on alcohol/tobacco use and reproductive health education, are successfully implemented in two St. Paul public high schools with large Karen populations. A summer program for Karen youth focused on alcohol/tobacco prevention also took place in 2015.