Governed by an elected Board of Directors, the Council on Adolescents of Catawba County was incorporated in 1986 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The Council was created by a group of homemakers and the health educator from the Health Department to address the issue of teenage pregnancy in Catawba County. In the last 27 years, the Council’s focus was expanded to include educational interventions against tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use. Currently, programs include puberty and teen pregnancy prevention education programs, mentoring programs, and initiatives that promote healthy behaviors among adolescents. The majority of funding over the years has come primarily from grants: state grant programs, local foundations, larger NC foundations, fees for services, and private donations.
The Council's main educational initiative is in the area of comprehensive sexuality education, as required by the Healthy Youth Act, and encouraging abstinence-until marriage. Our Healthy Youth Education Programs are integrated, sequential, age-appropriate, medically accurate, and interactive. Our target populations are adolescents between the ages of 10-18 in Catawba County. Through in-school education programs, we teach healthy alternatives to risky behaviors. We currently serve more than 8,000 youth in Catawba County Schools, Hickory Public Schools, Newton-Conover City Schools, Concordia Christian Day School, St. Stephens Lutheran School and University Christian High School.
Our mentoring initiative, the Lunch Buddy Program serves at-risk adolescents in Catawba County. This mentoring program is designed to help reach students who meet the criteria of potentially dropping out of school. Our agency recruits and trains volunteer mentors and works with three school systems to match identified students with appropriate mentors. The Lunch Buddy Program helps create healthy attitudes and behavior in youth and provides them with a positive adult mentor that meets with them on a regular, scheduled weekly basis.
We also provide community program through our Teens 4 R.E.A.L. Summer Camp series to teach youth about relationships, empowerment, attitudes, and life. Our newest initiative, Teen Talk is a comprehensive sexuality education program for middle and high school students across Catawba County. Both of these programs are intended to educate young people in our community about how to make healthy life choices so that they can avoid risky behaviors and reach their full potential.