Best Practice

Pono Choices: A Culturally Responsive Teen Pregnancy and STI Prevention Program for Middle School Youth

State/Jurisdiction: Hawaii
Setting: School
Population: Adolescents & Young Adults
Topic Area: Equity & Anti-Racism Reproductive Health
NPMs: NPM 10: Adolescent Well-Visit

Pono Choices is a scripted, 10-module, 9.5-hour curriculum that provides middle school youth with the knowledge and skills necessary to reduce their risk of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The curriculum provides youth with medically accurate information within a Hawaiian place-based framework. The core components of Pono Choices are built around a set of knowledge, attitudes, and skills that have been derived from a review of evidence-based teen pregnancy and STI prevention programs. In addition, Pono Choices works from a pedagogy that believes student engagement through role-play and skill demonstration is essential. A key component unique to this curriculum is the use of cultural referents, Hawaiian practices, and connection and engagement activities involving ‘ohana. Cultural components in the curriculum include: the introduction of Hawaiian cultural values, an original cultural story, cultural practices, and locally produced videos and artwork. Hawaiian cultural values are introduced in each lesson to reinforce lesson content and are expanded on through the original cultural story, entitled “The Voyage of the Wa‘a Kaulua.” The story serves as an access point into the curriculum content from the viewpoint of two adolescents preparing for an important journey. Pono Choices embeds cultural practices in the curriculum through ‘ohana (family) activities. Students and the members of their ‘ohana have the opportunity to construct a wa‘a (canoe), braid cordage, and create a lei while reinforcing the message of pregnancy and STI prevention. Pono Choices also uses locally produced videos and historical readings. Stories are used throughout the curriculum to connect students to their community. Seeing oneself represented in the curricula is an essential part of any culturally responsive learning environment.

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Implementation Handout
Facilitator Manual
Parent Night Guide

University of Hawai‘i
Tammy Tom
(808) 956-9039
Practice Website