THE reality of teenage pregnancy was brought home to Year 10 pupils of the University Church of England Academy in Ellesmere Port during a drama performance held at the school.
The drama focused on what it is like to deal with pregnancy as a teenager, showing how teenage girls and boys can be left with difficult decisions to make.
Developed and performed by 2engage, a drama company set up by University of Chester students Ed Morris and Phil Goss, the performance was commissioned by Cheshire West and Chester Council Children’s Services as part of a new strategy to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies to girls under 18 years of age.
Key messages for young people include:
Think before you have sex.
Be sure you are ready and not just giving in to peer pressure.
Be prepared by talking to a parent, GP, teacher, nurse, youth worker or other trusted adult about worries, contraception and how to avoid both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
Cllr Mark Stocks, executive member for Children’s Services, said: “In West Cheshire approximately 220 teenagers under the age of 18 fall pregnant each year and face difficult decisions on the right personal path to take.
“Cheshire West and Chester Council is dedicated to ensuring that all young people who find themselves in this situation have access to information, advice and support, whist continuing to educate young people on the huge impact a pregnancy would have on their lives.
“Tackling difficult issues through drama engages with young people in a much clearer way. We hope to be able to tour the drama to a number of secondary schools over the coming year.”
The performance was followed by a presentation by Addiction Dependency Solutions, Manchester, on the risks of drugs and alcohol to young people and the damage done to teenagers by alcohol and drug use.
Kate Watt, manager at the Academy, said: “I think the drama is fantastic. It really engages the students. All the school teaching staff who watched the performance said afterwards how good it was and asked if we can have it again for all our students.”
The majority of teenage pregnancies – about 75% – are unplanned and about half end in abortion. About 39,000 girls under the age of 18 become pregnant each year in England and about 21,000 become mums.
In West Cheshire there are about 220 conceptions to teenagers under 18 each year, of which about half are aborted and half lead to a live birth. In West Cheshire about 60% of teenage conceptions lead to an abortion.
Local member Cllr Ben Powell said: “Portraying important issues such as teenage pregnancy through performance is a great way to really connect with young people in a way that discussion does not always achieve.
“To bring the struggles of teenage pregnancy to life in such a real way allows young people to really see the impact it would have on their lives.”
For information on Cheshire West and Chester's Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, call Neil Massingham on 01244 973342. For more on 2engage, email firstname.lastname@example.org.