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Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Ashera Project do?

Ashera Project provides comprehensive long-term pregnancy prevention and youth development programming. Groups of 8-10 high school students meet once a week during the school day with a group facilitator/health educator to discuss issues surrounding positive self-esteem and healthy sexuality, community service, and opportunities beyond high school.

How is Ashera different from other teen pregnancy prevention programs?

Teen sexual health is a complex issue requiring multiple strategies and levels of support. Although research shows that one-time presentations are not very effective at changing behaviors, many programs continue this type of education. Ashera Project offers this long-term programming need.

Is teen pregnancy a problem in our community?

Unfortunately, it is.
  • Texas leads the nation in teen pregnany. (National Vital Statistics Report, Volume 52, Number 10, December 17, 2003. Based on 2002 data.)
  • In 2002, Travis County had a teen pregnancy rate of 27.1 per 1,000 for all teen females. For Hispanic teens, the rate was 53.3 pregnancies per 1,000 teens (Austin/Travis County Health & Human Services Department, 2002 data).
  • 50% of Texas high school students have had sexual intercourse, and 45% did not use a condom the last time they had intercourse. (Grunbaum, J., et al., "Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance - United States, 2001," Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, June 28, 2002)
  • A sexually active teen not using contraception has a 90% chance of becoming pregnancy within a year. (The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), Facts in Brief: Sexuality Education)
Here are a few key sites with further explain the problem and talk about some solutions:

What are Ashera's long-term goals?

Ashera Projectís goal is to have four years of programming in three of Austinís high schools. Once full programming is in place about 100-120 students each year will receive services. Ashera intends to remain small, allowing group facilitators to develop personal, trusting relationships with the students they work with.

Where does the organizationís name come from?

Ashera Project is named for a Canaanite Goddess known as Asherah who has been characterized as helping people achieve their goals and dreams. Asherah is also seen as a symbol of moral strength, offering to lend support and insight when people are faced with inequality or overwhelming odds. Her "Tree of Knowledge" bore fruit not only to feed the body, but also to nourish the spirit.

How do students join Ashera?

Ashera is a voluntary program. Students are referred to Ashera by school or community counselors, general program recruitment such as group announcements and posted flyers within the school, and by group members referring their friends.

Is your program open to male and female students?

Ashera is designed to be a coed program, although its initial pilot group consisted only of females so as to not compete with a male involvement program being offered at the same high school.

What is Ashera's stance on abortion?

Ashera Project does not perform abortions nor does it encourage youth to have abortions. Ashera gives the most factual and up-to-date information about the choices a teenager has when facing pregnancy. These include resources such as health facilities geared towards adolescent reproductive issues, exploration of available options such as adoption, abortion, or keeping the baby, and direction to counseling. Ashera will support any choice a teenager makes.

What can I do to help?

Consider donating your time, resources and talents to Ashera by volunteering or becoming a board member.

Make a donation to support Asheraís pregnancy prevention and youth development programming.

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