Under the leadership of Jaguars co-owner and Foundation Chair/CEO Delores Barr Weaver, the Jaguars Foundation has been working since 1995 to help prevent teen pregnancy and the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections among adolescents. An unprecedented partnership of all local network affiliates and other media was formed to air an annual prime time teen forum. A grant making component was added in 1999 in partnership with the Weaver Family Foundation, allocating $1.6 million in grants to-date. In 2002, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida joined as the Straight Talk co-sponsor. Marjorie Marquinez, Program Officer at the Jaguars Foundation, coordinates both the grant making and media partnership components.
The Institute for Health, Policy and Evaluation Research of the Duval County Health Department conducted an independent evaluation of the programs which was presented on May 31, 2007 at the Jaguars Team Meeting Room at Jacksonville Municipal Stadium.
"The good news is that the program is achieving great success in helping teens make the right decisions to prevent pregnancy and infection," Mrs. Weaver stated. Thomas Bryant III, the co-evaluator stated, "the evaluation evidence indicated the programs were successfully reaching their intended audience with the expected outcomes and that overall; the programs met or exceeded their objectives."
The evaluation concludes that the youth made significant gains in knowledge about sexual health, pregnancy, STI's, and the consequences of sexual activity. They are communicating better with their parents and using skills to better assert themselves and avoid risky behavior. After participating in the program, more teens reported a commitment to abstinence, which the Jaguars Foundation believes is always the first and best choice, however, not always honored by our youth. Those youth that were sexually active reported a higher use of contraception. Mrs. Weaver added, "I am particularly pleased to see the increase in teen-parent communication and the positive feedback parents gave regarding the program."
Programs at four nonprofit agencies were evaluated: The Bridge of Northeast Florida: Focus on Kids, Cultural Connections & Responsible Manhood; Girls Inc.: Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy: Growing Together, Will Power/Won't Power & Taking Care of Business; PACE Center for Girls: Time to be a Girl; and Planned Parenthood of NE FL: FACES of NE FL Peer Educators/Teen Theater in public schools and the community.
The evaluation also demonstrated the enormous impact of the annual television Teen Forum, "Teens & Sex…the Real Truth," reaching out to thousands of households each year with the important prevention message. This effort has the unprecedented support of all of the local TV stations including network affiliates WJCT PBS 7, WTLV NBC 12, WCWJ CW 17, WJXX ABC 25, WAWS FOX 30, WTEV CBS 47 and independent station WJXT 4, along with Comcast Cable, The Florida Times-Union/jacksonville.com, PRI Productions, Clear Channel Outdoor, United Way 211, radio stations, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, and Straight Talk co-sponsor Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida.
The evaluation concluded that the television show successfully delivered the appropriate message to a wide audience, and provided teen pregnancy and STI prevention information needed by teens; effectively used real life experiences of teens; a student PSA contest; Jaguars players and cheerleaders; and local and national celebrities to get the show's message to teens; and, provided an opportunity for teens and their parents to communicate.
Though local and national rates of teen pregnancy are going down, Florida has the third highest rate of teen pregnancy in the nation and Duval County still has higher teen pregnancy and STI rates than both the state and national averages. Delores Barr Weaver noted, "There is still much work to be done and you have my personal commitment on behalf of the Jaguars Foundation that we will continue to partner with the community in this important endeavor. "
For a copy of the Executive Report, please contact the Foundation at 633-KIDS.