Success Story: Congregación León de Judá
Congregación León de Judá is a faith-based organization in Boston, Massachusetts. Congregación León de Judá implements the curriculum Promoting Health Among Teens! Abstinence Only (PHAT-AO) through their Vale Esperar program. Since 2008, Vale Esperar has been dedicated to reducing the high rates of teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and associated health risks among Hispanic teens in their region. Supported with funding from the Office of Adolescent Health (OAH), the program reaches more than 750 youth each year, spread across 40 sites covering Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island; the project has had tremendous success in reaching youth and scaling the program.
Vale Esperar works directly with Hispanic middle school students. Middle school is a critical time to begin conversations about sex and personal responsibility. Hispanic communities served by Vale Esperar have high rates of teen pregnancy, at more than twice the national average.,, Many of the youth served are children of immigrants and English language learners – a population at high risk of pregnancy.
Despite the challenges faced by the youth served, Vale Esperar has succeeded in making meaningful connections with them through the implementation of PHAT-AO. The program includes eight, one-hour sessions delivered in a group setting. It works to increase knowledge about pregnancy prevention and HIV/STDs, strengthen positive attitudes toward abstinence, increase skills to negotiate abstinence, and build pride in making a difference in one’s own life. PHAT-AO includes role plays, small group activities, videos, and homework assignments completed with a family member. The variety in teaching methods helps keep youth engaged. Jasiel Fernandez, the Vale Esperar Project Director, spoke about youth participants and stated “we have a lot of young people showing such a level of depth. They understand the risk; they understand they need to make responsible decisions and be mindful. They evaluate their choices responsibly.” She continued, “their resilience, many times in spite of facing many difficult circumstances, and the fact that they still have goals and dreams, is inspiring. Their potential is truly great.”
“They understand the risk, they understand they need to make responsible decisions and be mindful. They evaluate their choices responsibly.”
– Jasiel Fernandez, Program Director”
Name: Jasiel Fernandez
Title: Project Director
Organization: Congregación León de Judá
 Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Massachusetts births 2013. (2014). Boston, MA: Office of Data Management and Outcomes Assessment. Retrieved January 2, 2015, from http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/research-epi/birth-report-2013.pdf.
 Cohen, R. K. Teen pregnancy. (2013).Hartford, CT: Connecticut General Assembly, Office of Legislative Research. Retrieved January 2, 2015, from http://www.cga.ct.gov/2013/rpt/pdf/2013-R-0376.pdf.
 2010 Rhode Island Kids Count factbook. (2010). Providence, RI: Rhode Island KIDS COUNT. Retrieved January 2, 2015, from http://www.rikidscount.org/matriarch/documents/RIKCFactbook2010.pdf.
 Morse, A. (2005). A look at immigrant youth: Prospects and promising practices. National Conference of State Legislature. A Collaborative Project on Children and Family Issues. Washington DC: Children’s Policy Initiative.