Grantee Spotlight: Planned Parenthood Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota

Native STAND (Students Together Against Negative Decisions) is a peer education program where teens learn about real-life issues involving reproductive health and sexuality, and then provide accurate information within their peer groups. Peer education is proven to be highly effective in improving knowledge, attitudes, and skills – and in building future leaders. As peer educators, Native STAND participants become “go-to” resources in their schools and communities. Planned Parenthood has been offering Native STAND since 2010 in northern Minnesota communities such as Bemidji, Cass Lake, and Red Lake.

The Native STAND curriculum was developed in 2008 by a multi-disciplinary workgroup comprised of Native elders, Native youth, and health professionals and provides a culturally-specific approach to important topics. Native STAND includes elements such as visits from Native elders and discussions of Native American two spirit people, just two examples of how the program is created by, for, and with the community.

Native STAND participants have shared that they “feel a lot more comfortable talking about STD/STIs, pregnancy and birth control” and “gained more efficient communication skills”. In fact, last year, Native STAND members reached over 480 people with accurate information through their work!

In the current political environment, access to reproductive health care and education is consistently at risk on the state and national level. Programs like Native STAND, along with Planned Parenthood’s five additional peer education programs for young people across Minnesota, are meeting a critical community need: young people’s access to accurate, comprehensive sex education. We are grateful to the George Family Foundation for supporting all Planned Parenthood’s youth peer education programs throughout Minnesota.

Participants in a Native STAND program in Bemidji at their graduation.

A Native STAND participant gives a presentation on anatomy to the class.