Husband-and-wife team Nicholas Kristof, of the New York Times, and Sheryl WuDunn have written a powerful new book, A Path Appears, about the individuals and institutions making the world a better place through local and global initiatives. We’re incredibly excited that the authors have included Dr. Michael Carrera and the Children’s Aid Society’s-Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program among the innovators who are using research, evidence-based strategies, and brilliant ideas to spread opportunity around the world. Here’s a short excerpt:
The Carrera curriculum for middle schools and high schools is one of the most impressive efforts to deal with [teenage pregnancy] issues. Devised with the help of the Children’s Aid Society in New York, it aims to arm disadvantaged kids not just with condoms but with skills and self-confidence as well. The program runs from sixth grade through senior year of high school, and it includes discussions of health and sexuality and also of jobs, bank accounts, and financial literacy. The students get help opening their own savings accounts, and they get medical and dental care, vision care, and eyeglasses—even braces if they need them. All this encourages kids to sign up, and in socially conservative communities it reduces the sensitivity of the program as “sex education.” It’s an elective that students sign up for, and their parents have to consent because of the discussions about sexuality.
Dr. Carrera argues strongly that single-intervention approaches don’t work very well, because one of the underlying reasons for pregnancy is fatalism and hopelessness. As he sees it, pregnancy prevention isn’t just a technical matter of preventing eggs from meeting sperm; it’s also about giving kids hope an determination so that they have a stake in the future and positively want to avoid pregnancy. “Wisdom in our work begins,” Dr. Carrera says, “when we give up giving up.”