A local nonprofit is charting a course for the future as it celebrates 40 years of delivering preventive health education throughout northeastern Indiana.
McMillen Health will mark four decades of service with a fundraiser at Parkview Field on Friday evening.
McMillen's latest project is using a $442,000 grant from the Indiana Department of Health to continue two pregnancy-prevention programs for youth in Kosciusko, Blackford, Elkhart, Jay, Fulton and St. Joseph counties.
The Choices Today, Options Tomorrow program for grades nine through 12 was launched in 2015. Promoting Health Among Teens, a program for grades six through eight, started in 2017.
Combined, they will offer pregnancy prevention to at least 2,000 youths, a news release said. The nonprofit reaches almost 70,000 children and adults each year.
Both courses include eight modules that equip youth with the practical skills, knowledge, and confidence to stand up for healthy life choices related to sexual activity and other risky behaviors.
Topics include pregnancy and conception, the danger of drugs and alcohol, positive decision making, the financial impact of teen pregnancy, and teens' roles now and in the future.
Students also learn how to manage anger and stress.
Nicole Fairchild, McMillen's executive director, said trained instructors test students before and after presentations to measure how much they've learned.
Last year, the tests measured a 56% increase in students' knowledge, she said, adding that the amount can be as high as 96% in rural areas.
McMillen, which has an annual budget of $1.1 million and employs 22, works primarily with children and teens but also offers programs for adults, including those with special needs.
Additional programs focus on dental health, nutrition, fitness and emotional health. McMillen offers an active brain boosters course for senior citizens. A new program teaches children about germs, including how the COVID-19 virus spreads.
The curriculum taught in schools aligns with the Indiana Academic Standards for Health Education and the National Standards for Health Education. Topics are age-appropriate and designed to maximize positive outcomes in knowledge, attitude and lifelong behavior, according to the organization's website.
The nonprofit's reach extends nationally and internationally with livestreaming programs viewed in Canada, Mexico and Australia.
“Most people associate us with reproductive health education, 'the talk,'” Fairchild said, referring to sessions taught each year in Fort Wayne Community Schools. “They call us the sex and drug ladies.”
If you go
What: 40th Anniversary Celebration for McMillen Health, including a cocktail reception, dinner and presentation about the nonprofit's past, present and future
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Friday
Where: Parkview Field, 1301 Ewing St.
Cost: $40 per person; $240 for a table of six; free parking in Silver Lot
For more information: Call 260-456-4511