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Jackson County teen clinic to open
One goal is to reduce teen pregnancy
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Teen Matters Jackson County
What: A health clinic for teens ages 11-19
Where: 260 Lee St., Jefferson
Hours: 1:30- 7 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays
More information: 706-367-0712, kphibler@dhr.state.ga.us, teenmattersjackson.com. A text line will soon be available, as well, allowing teens to anonymously text any questions they might have.

Jackson County boasts the highest teen birth rate in the region, a statistic Kendra Hibler hopes to curb through the Teen Matters Jackson County health clinic.

Hibler will serve as the clinic’s adolescent health educator and, with registered nurse Lindsay Lawson, will offer Jackson County residents ages 11 to 19 a host of health services.

Located in downtown Jefferson, the clinic opens today. A community open house will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday.

With 73 out of every 1,000 teens ages 15-19 giving birth in Jackson County, the Northeast Health District had begun to consider opening one of its Teen Matters clinics in the area last year. It currently operates three clinics, two in Athens and one in Danielsville.

Hibler said it’s a resource the community desperately needs. She cited the stark comparison between Jackson County’s birth rate and the national rate, which is 40 births per 1,000 teens.

Within the county, 1 out of every 3 girls will become pregnant before they turn 20, Hibler said. Even more sobering is the fact that daughters of teen mothers are more likely to become teen moms and sons of teen mothers are more likely to end up in jail.

“I hope to bring light to the issue of teen pregnancy. I hope to break down those walls of it being a taboo subject or something that doesn’t happen here,” she said. “I want it to be an empowering place — not just for teens, I want parents to utilize it. I want community members to utilize it. I want it to be a place where everyone feels like they can get something.”

Services to be offered at the clinic include abstinence education, health education, birth control, women’s health exams, immunizations and STD checkups by appointment. All services are free and confidential. Hibler also hopes to have an active presence in each of the county’s high schools. She said she can also talk with teens, their parents or the community on a range of health topics including pregnancy prevention, nutrition, puberty, drug and alcohol abuse, bullying, physical activity, goal setting and body image.

Hibler graduated from Jefferson High School and has family in Jackson County. She holds a bachelor’s degree in health promotion and a master’s degree in public health, both from the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health.

Hibler said her goal as the county’s first adolescent health educator is to “empower” the community.

“I really want to empower kids. I want to empower parents. I want to empower families to make good choices overall,” she said. “I hope they know that we’re a resource they can trust and that we’re looking out for the best interest of these kids in this county.”

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