When high school students in the Chester Upland School District need guidance on having a healthy relationship, preventing an unwanted pregnancy, avoiding risky sexual behaviors, or understanding their sexual identity, they have a place to go.

The Foundation for Delaware County’s Health Resource Center is located at Chester High School. Access Matters, a Philadelphia nonprofit, provides equal access to anyone with reproductive and sexual health service needs. The nonprofit funds the program in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The program is administered locally by The Foundation for Delaware County.

The Health Resource Center is a confidential in-school drop-in center where students receive information on such topics as abstinence, pregnancy prevention methods, condom distribution and risk reduction, and why it is important not to participate in sexting. Students also learn about condom confidence, gender and sexual orientation, sexual consent and other related issues.

Services at the center are provided by Alanah Pierce, a health educator with a bachelor’s degree, who makes referrals as needed to in-school social services, as well as community-based providers. Students also are referred to Smedley Wellness Center, a Crozer-Keystone Health System adolescent medicine practice, where a physician or nurse practitioner provides comprehensive family planning services even for those without insurance.

This year, it is expected that the Health Resource Center will provide more than 300 counseling sessions. The center will refer more than 60 percent of students to family planning and adolescent-focused primary care health services at Smedley. In addition to regular appointment hours, Smedley now offers a no-appointment-needed Walk-In Family Planning Clinic on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 1-4:30 p.m.

The Health Resource Center program helps young people in the city of Chester make responsible choices to stay safe and healthy. It supports their overall health and well-being and plays an important role in preventing school dropouts.

The teen birth rate has declined significantly in the United States over the past 20 years, and the gaps in teen birth rates among white, black and Hispanic youth have significantly narrowed. However, federal and local data show many high school students continue to engage in risky sexual behavior.

The Health Resource Center and Smedley Wellness Center will continue to ensure that all students have access to the information they need to reduce these risks and make a successful transition to adulthood.

For more information, please contact Alanah Pierce at 267-896-1456 or follow us on Instagram @DelcoHRC.