BUILDING ON SUCCESS seeks to improve the health of all Gaston County, NC middle and high school students by focusing on school-based surveillance, specifically the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) and the School Health Profiles Survey (Profiles). Gaston County has benefited from multiple CDC investments related to adolescent sexual health over the years, including a community-wide initiative (2010-2015) led by SHIFT NC which included both Gaston County Schools and Gaston County Department and Health and Human Services. There is also a current CDC-funded project with Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services to engage young men around health services and pregnancy prevention. Both of these projects have laid a strong foundation and increased focus and effort within Gaston County Schools on sexual health education and HIV-prevention. Gaston County Schools is currently part of North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s CDC/DASH 1308 project as a priority LEA. While the county is proud of the strides made in adolescent sexual health, there is still work to be done around sexually transmitted infections and sexual risk behaviors. Gaston County Schools proposes to build on its school-based surveillance efforts and address identified challenges through three key strategies: 1) district-wide sexual health education and customized professional development for educators; 2) identifying clear referral strategies and supporting student-led campaigns about accessing sexual health services; and 3) training school staff on supporting LGBTQ students, promoting youth development activities, and supporting parent-child communications.
The expected short-term outcome to be achieved by school-based surveillance, Component 1, by the end of the five-year period is:
• Gaston County Schools and other key stakeholders will have an increased understanding of youth risk behaviors and school health policies and practices by education and public health agencies.
This will be achieved by working closely with the Healthy Schools Section at NCDPI, the CDC, and Westat to administer LEA-level YRBS with all middle and high schools in the district in odd-numbered years (2019, 2021, 2023) and to administer Profiles with the principal and lead health teacher at all middle and high schools in the district in even-numbered years (2020, 2022).
The long-term outcomes of this project are to delay the onset of sexual activity, decrease sex without a condom, increase contraceptive use, decrease rates of HIV and STD infections, decrease teen pregnancy rates, and increase academic success. The short-term, measurable outcomes are to:
1. Increase teacher ability to teach sexual health education effectively
2. Increase student receipt of effective sexual health education
3. Increase access to sexual health services off-site
4. Increase referrals to community providers
5. Increase teacher implementation of best classroom management practices for safe and supportive schools
6. Increase student participation in positive youth development activities
Gaston County plans to begin programmatic implementation with 14 priority middle and high schools, reaching about 11,000 students and an additional 5,000 students through secondary schools. There is strong support in the district to reach all of these students and the Student Services Department will take the lead in managing this project.
To achieve Building on Success’ outcomes, Gaston County Schools will partner with the Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services, the NC School Health Training Center, SHIFT NC (Sexual Health Initiatives for Teens), North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, and national technical assistance partners identified under Component 3.