TOP Club: Building Healthy Relationships

Top Club: Building Healthy Relationships
Posted on 12/09/2020
From Jennifer Pascoe, TOP co-facilitator and HAW Media Specialist

The Missouri Teen Pregnancy Prevention program (MOTPP), offered by the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), seeks to reduce teenage pregnancy, encourage healthy relationships, and empower youth across the state, including here in the Mexico community.

Teens in our community have participated in the Teen Outreach Program (TOP) curriculum since 2016. The program prepares middle and high school students to develop healthy relationships, build self-esteem and self-awareness, and create a sense of purpose and empowerment through peer learning, facilitated lesson plans, and collective service to the community. Through lessons on problem-solving, goal-setting, and healthy relationships, the TOP program nation-wide has lowered the likelihood of teen pregnancy, risky sexual behaviors, course failure, and rates of truancy in school. 

While MOTPP is administered by DHSS, schools, health departments, and nonprofits implement the program, including Mexico School District. This year there are 63 students enrolled. These students are a part of three different clubs, each led by program facilitators from the schools. At Mexico Middle, Kim Costley, Amanda Kinkead, Jennifer Pascoe, and Madeline Melvin facilitate the TOPs program; at Mexico High, Jennifer Warbritton and Drew Widaman assist. 

Finally, community service learning is a major focus of TOP. In previous years the clubs have volunteered many hours of service to the community, including making blankets for foster children, visiting nursing homes, helping out at elementary school family events, making cookies and thank you notes for EMS, and helping teachers prepare for MAP testing. When Covid closed down our in-person learning last spring, TOP students made thank-you cards, and our clubs donated gift cards and meals for essential workers in our community. This year, our TOP Clubs have tie-dyed masks to donate, baked and packaged Halloween cookies for the ambulance district, served dinner at parent/teacher conferences, packed blessing bags of toiletries and other personal items that were donated to the Help Center, and put together Halloween treat bags for community events and are making craft items to donate to children in need.  You may have also seen us ringing bells for the Salvation Army at Moser’s and Wal-Mart.  Contact Kim Costley at kcostley@mexico.k12.mo.us if you are interested in your teen participating in 2021-2022 TOP or you have a community service project for future teens.