Healthy Teens Coalition of Manatee County, often referred to as Healthy Teens, is dedicated to reducing risky behaviors by providing local youth with the knowledge and skills needed to make informed choices about their physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as their overall well-being. We do this primarily through the Teen Health Educator Program, training high-school students to become peer-educators and mentors serving at-risk youth in their community.
Healthy Teens achieves its success by working together with a grassroots group of over 180 individuals representing more than 60 nonprofit and social service agencies, including community-based health providers, the Manatee County School District, Manatee County Government, and several faith-based entities.
We engage young people, parents, community leaders, and policymakers to ensure that our youth have access to the tools, education, and information that will equip them to make healthy, informed decisions, putting them on the path for a more promising future.
Our founder, Mary Ann Legler, formed the Healthy Teens Coalition in 2010 in response to the alarming teen pregnancy rate in Manatee County. Her experience as a nurse practitioner allowed her to see firsthand the devastating impact that these unplanned pregnancies were having on the lives of all involved. Mary Ann hoped that by forming this organization and engaging teens as educators in the local school system, she’d help the county to reduce the average number of teen pregnancies.
After more than 10 years of service, and countless peer-education sessions, we are proud to say that her commitment to our youth has helped Manatee County to make great progress toward lowering the teen pregnancy rate.
In 2014, we launched the Teen Health Educator Program, recognizing the critical role that youth themselves play in reaching their peers with the information and tools needed to make informed decisions and take positive steps to healthier lifestyles.
In 2017, Teen Health Educators expanded their educational topics to include issues covering physical, emotional and mental health and well-being, in order to better serve youth across the spectrum of issues and challenges they are facing.
In 2020 we launched the Young Adult Leader Program through a generous grant from the Manatee Community Foundation. This provided a paid internship opportunity to enable Teen Health Educators to continue with Healthy Teens beyond high-school. This program focuses on further developing our educators as leaders within their community.
In 2021, through a grant funded by the Community Foundation of Sarasota, we launched the Trauma Leadership Corps. This group of educators and young leaders are specially trained in trauma-education and prevention, working in partnership with SRQ Strong and Hopeworks Camden, a youth-led trauma training provider.
Learn more about our programs here.
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