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Connecting with youth across the nation. Discovering their barriers to contraception. Deciding what we can do to break down these barriers.
In this digital age, many people believe that youth have access to plenty of information about sexual health and contraception at their fingertips. If this is true, how do we account for the fact that 82% of teen pregnancies are unplanned, and youth make up nearly half of new cases of STIs each year? Why aren’t more young people using contraception? I’m going to use the Millennial Trains Project to find out.
I am excited to talk with youth across the United States to discuss barriers they face regarding contraception. Focus group discussions held at each stop on the Millennial Trains Project will dive into these questions and invigorate the conversation around youth and contraception. The living blog will continue this conversation beyond the boundaries of the railway line.
What’s Your Barrier will provide a space where young people can talk about their specific barriers to contraception and sexual health.
The long-term goal of What’s Your Barrier is to expand the dialogue about barriers youth face to accessing contraception and spark action - innovative youth-led initiatives to break through these obstacles. Individual non-profits and clinics across the country make efforts to do this in their own community, but it’s often difficult to scale up these programs to make national noise. What’s Your Barrier will take these experiences and create a space where different issues about access and knowledge can be succinctly found, and when patterns emerge, examined deeper to transform the conversation into action.
As an MPH candidate and professional in the reproductive health field I have the networks and support to take my findings from the rails, to the classroom, to the White House.
Throughout the trip I will blog about our discussions and create a living blog for these barriers to be discussed with youth across America.
The series of discussions will culminate in a commentary that will contribute to the current research and knowledge base in adolescent health. This new approach will provide local health departments, national agencies, and public health officials a fresh, firsthand view on what youth in their cities are saying about their barriers to contraception, and ways they think these could be fixed.
Katelyn Bryant-Comstock is currently an MPH student in Maternal and Child Health at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. An avid advocate for reproductive rights, Katelyn started her career at Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, and then moved to learn about international family planning with WINGS in Guatemala. Before returning to school Katelyn worked at the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA) where she met women from around the world who continue to inspire her today to keep up the good fight. When she's not working, she's dancing or cheering on her Tar Heels.
It's official! My project "What's Your Barrier?" will launch on the Millennial Train in August!
Thank you so much to everyone who supported me in fundraising, helping with the idea, and providing love and encouragement. I couldn't do any of this work without you all, and I can't wait to share my results.
A huge shout out to the DC crew that put my fundraising over the edge and threw the best (and most informative) party Zeba's ever seen. Updates on the blog so you can follow my journey and findings coming soon!
We're almost there!
A huge thank you to everyone who has supported me so far, and continues to send their love, well wishes, and donations my way. If you're in the DC area, next Thursday night you have a chance to hang out with some awesome people and have a beer in support of my project!
Some pretty great people in DC are putting on a happy hour fundraiser for me at Zeba Bar (3423 14th St. NW) from 5:30-9pm next Thursday night, June 27th. There will be drink specials, a raffle, and lots of great people to have fun conversations with. A portion of the proceeds from the night will go to my campaign- so thank you in advance!
I cannot express how touched I have been at everyone who has donated and shared my project so far. The amount of people who have given me their well wishes, their donations, and their support is amazing and I don't have adequate words to express how much it means to me.
It's really the love and support from family, friends, and strangers that keeps me going- so keep those shares coming, and I'll keep on fighting.