Portable interior renovation
Facilities Needs Assessment,Healthy & Sustainable Environments,Facilities Renovation
Last week, while working at my desk, a scared 16-year-old girl came into our portable. She thought she might be pregnant because she had unprotected sex the night before with her boyfriend. I took her outside our portable to talk in private and listened to her fears and concerns. By the end of our session she left with the directions to the free clinic nearby, information on the Emergency Contraceptive Pill as well as a handful of colorful condoms.
The Mission of Teen Talk Sexuality Education (TTSE) is to provide science-based, comprehensive sex education programs to youth to help them make healthy choices that will result in lower rates of teen pregnancy and STD/HIV in the community. We currently serve approximately 3,500 students in public middle and high schools in southern San Mateo County as well as all students in juvenile detention facilities and court and community schools in the county. Comprehensive sexuality education, like that provided by our organization is an effective approach to addressing these health issues. A study showed adolescents who reported receiving comprehensive sex education had half the risk of teen pregnancy compared to those who reported abstinence-only education and 40% of the risk compared to those who reported no sex education (Kohler, Lafferty & Manhart, 2008). As an organization, we work vigorously to ensure that Teen Talk continues to serve as many students as possible.
Two years ago, we had a funding crisis and moved from our previous office to a permanent one-room portable located on the campus of Sequoia High School in Redwood City, CA. Once on campus, we realized how beneficial and accessible our new portable is for students who need information or help outside of class. We often have students come into our office seeking advice or just in need of condoms. Due to the commitment of the high school district to the work of Teen Talk, we have a long term agreement to remain in our portable in exchange for teaching classes with the freshman students.
Since then, our funding situation has improved and our organization has grown in the past year from 3 to 9 full-time or part-time employees. The space in our office is not being used very effectively. We currently only have seven desks in an open oval shape, which has left two of our staff members without their own desk space or computer. Lined up along the walls we have several different sized filing/storage cabinets, a copy machine and refrigerator. In the center of our office are several tables pushed together for monthly staff and board meetings as well as a work area for lesson planning, mailings, etc.
It is difficult for us to invite students to visit the office or to talk to our educators because there is no private meeting space. As a result we are forced to take the conversation outside the portable. We would love to be more directly accessible to students and community partners if we were able to create a private area where counseling/advice could take place.
The office feels cluttered and the d®cor is haphazard primarily consisting of tacked up posters. A more pleasing and healthy workspace will help all our employees improve productivity as well as personal well-being as they head out into our community to deliver vital health and relationship information. We would love help creating a comfortable, professional environment where the space is used to its fullest potential.
1 Kohler PK, Manhart LE, Lafferty WE. Abstinence-only and comprehensive sex education and the initiation of sexual activity and teen pregnancy. J Adolsc Health. 2008.
The sooner the better but we are somewhat flexible.