OGDEN -- After going through the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, Miguel Maciel is reaching out to others in the hope they will learn as much as he did.
"I have really learned a lot," he said. "And although I made a mistake myself I am willing to reach out to my peers so they won't make the same mistake I did."
Maciel, 20, said he got a girl pregnant and ended up dropping out of high school. A year later he joined YouthBuild at the Ogden-Weber Applied Technology Center and then went through the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program offered through the Weber-Morgan Health Department.
"After I went through the course I became a mentor and now I teach others about the program," he said. "I have learned so much and I've had so many doors open up to me now that I have finished my education. I have accomplished more than I ever thought was possible and have even been in the national technical honor's society."
The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program is a six-week educational course, said Nickee Palacios, Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program manager for the Weber-Morgan Health Department. Topics center around decision making, contraception, STDs, healthy relationships, goal setting, refusal skills and communication.
"The kids come here on a voluntary basis and once they have gone through the class they can join the coalition and be peer leaders for others," she said. "The coalition meets every Thursday and they help spread the message to their friends and help them to get back on track with their lives and their educational goals."
The message is also taken out into the community. Palacios said during the 2011-2012 school year, the program was taught in 17 Ogden and Weber schools, reaching 3,334 students ages 12 to 18.
When asked if abstinence before marriage was the best choice, 18 percent of students say yes before taking the course. After the course, 45 percent of students said yes. Of those who said they intended to abstain from sex before the course, 52 percent said they would. After the course, 67 percent of students said they would abstain until marriage.
Palacios said the impact on the community has been positive. Utah has seen an 18.8 percent decrease in the number of teen births, with a 19 percent decrease in the Weber-Morgan health district and a 16 percent decrease in the number of teen births in the downtown Ogden area.
Jaymes Johnston is also a mentor for the coalition. He said he gives a little push to his peers and the rest is up to them.
"I try to warn them about STDs and how to be safe," he said. "One night we showed a movie about Magic Johnson and it talked about HIV and AIDS."
Johnston said the program helped him get his life back on track as well. When he was 16, he said he dropped out of school, but returned and joined YouthBuild and the coalition.
"I have learned so much and I realized that I can be doing better things than sitting on my butt," he said. "I can take charge of my life and I can help others think about taking charge of theirs. We can't force them but we can give them that little push."
Selina Sosa and Kyle Fairchild agree. Both are also mentors for the coalition and have turned their lives around and are helping others to do the same.
"I enjoy doing it," Sosa said. "There were things I didn't know. I had heard about some of the STDs but not all of them and I didn't know there were other ways to spread them like through blood and saliva."
Fairfield said it's important for kids to know the myths and facts surrounding sex.
"There are some surprising things you learn," he said. "I would also tell kids to abstain until they are financially ready to have a child. It's risky either way though."