Teen pregnancy program gets $7,700 in donations

Thanks to donations from two service groups, the young residents of China Spring Youth Camp and Aurora Pines will get hands-on parenting experience.

Carson Valley Sertoma donated $7,000 and Soroptimist International of Carson Valley gave $700 toward the purchase of simulator babies and pregnancy vests that will be distributed to the girls and boys at the youth detention facility south of Gardnerville.

"We notice that the kids are at a high risk for a variety of behaviors including pregnancy and having children out of wedlock at a young age," said Wendy Garrison, Aurora Pines program manager.

She said the girls' facility has had several pregnant residents.

"We run into ex-residents in the community and they have babies or they are pregnant," she said. "It's more obvious with the girls, but our male population has babies, too. We don't feel that we have been adequately addressing that issue."

With the donations, Garrison said she plans to purchase 12 simulator babies. Ten of the infants have the characteristics of a healthy child. One baby will reflect an infant with fetal alcohol syndrome and the other will have the characteristics of a child born to drug-addicted parents.

"They may use substances during their pregnancy, or maybe the dad uses substances around mom. We want to tackle all the issues," Garrison said.

She said the pregnancy vests give the visual and physical experience of the third trimester of pregnancy.

"We want the girls to know what it feels like and what it looks like," she said.

The vests will be rotated among the girls only, but the boys will share the babies.

Each baby is assigned to a "parent" who has 24-hour responsibility.

"The simulator provides the participant with the challenges of rearing a baby," she said.

The dolls are heavy, Garrison said, weighing as much as a 6-month old baby.

"They will experience the issues of child rearing: waking up all hours of the night, feeding and changing diapers," she said.

Each "parent" has a wrist band that can't be removed and reflects if the correct response was made to the baby's needs. Only that person can care for the simulated infant.

China Spring and Aurora Pines accept offenders age 12-18 from across the state.


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