Celia Thomas, DHA, Chief Operating Officer, Alternatives For Girls
LeadHer is a multicomponent intervention emphasizing female leadership and sexual health that aims to reduce teen pregnancy and risky sexual behavior among at-risk adolescent girls. The program includes 30 hours of group learning sessions over a six-week period. It focuses on topics such as healthy relationship skills, goal-setting and decision-making skills, communication skills, adolescent development, and career development. The program is delivered by trained peer educators supported by an adult facilitator. It is also highly recommended that youth participate in two goal-setting sessions with a case planner who will help youth make plans for their future and provide referrals to programs and services that support youths’ ongoing healthy growth and development.
LeadHer was designed for adolescent girls ages 14 to 19.
LeadHer is designed to be implemented in a school, community center, school-based after-school program, or other locations where youth can gather comfortably.
|Category||Component||Core Component||Component present||Notes||Lesson number(s) / activities where present|
|Content||Graduating from high school||No|
|Content||Communication skills||Yes||Yes (both versions)||2.10 p. 72; 5.9 p. 185|
|Content||Volunteering/civic engagement||No||Yes (both versions)||6.3 p. 195|
|Content||Morals/values||Yes||Yes (both versions)||3.8 p. 113; 3.9 p. 115|
|Content||Social support/capital||No||Yes (both versions)||5.9 p. 185|
|Content||Social influence/actual vs. perceived social norms||No||Yes (both versions)||4.4 p. 134; 4.5 p. 137; 4.6 p. 142; 4.7 p. 144; 4.8 p. 146|
|Content||Normative beliefs||No||Yes (both versions)||2.4 p. 48|
|Content||Leadership||Yes||Yes (both versions)||1.4 p. 18; 1.5 p. 20; 1.7 p. 26; 1.8 p. 28; 1.9 p. 35; 4.6 p. 142; 6.4 p. 197|
|Content||Gender roles||No||Yes (both versions)||4.5 p. 137|
|Content||Cultural values||Yes||Yes (both versions)||3.8 p. 113; 3.9 p. 115; 4.7 p. 144|
|Content||Connections with trusted adults||Yes||Yes (both versions)||5.9 p. 185; 6.6 p. 202|
|Content||Conflict resolution/social problem solving||Yes||Yes (both versions)||5.9 p. 185|
|Content||Child development||Yes||Yes (both versions)||In Staff Training|
|Content||Boundary setting/refusal skills||Yes||Yes (both versions)||2.6 p. 64; 2.13 p. 83; 3.4 p. 96; 3.5 p. 99|
|Content||Substance use cessation||No|
|Content||Substance use - Other drugs||Yes||Yes (both versions)||4.9 p. 151; 4.10 p. 161; 6.6 p. 202|
|Content||Substance use - Alcohol||Yes||Yes (both versions)||4.9 p. 151; 4.10 p. 161; 6.6 p. 202|
|Content||Substance use - Abstinence||Yes||Yes (both versions)||4.9 p. 151; 4.10 p. 161; 6.6 p. 202|
|Content||Brain development and substance use||Yes||Yes (both versions)||In Staff Training|
|Content||Supplemental academic services||No|
|Content||College preparation||Yes||Yes (both versions)||5.7 p. 180; 6.6 p. 202|
|Content||Self-esteem||Yes||Yes (both versions)||2.2 p. 46; 2.12 p. 80; 2.13 p. 83; 4.4 p. 134; 6.5 p. 199|
|Content||Self-efficacy/empowerment||Yes||Yes (both versions)||2.2 p. 46; 2.12 p. 80; 2.13 p. 83; 4.4 p. 134; 6.5 p. 199|
|Content||Risk of STIs and Pregnancy||Yes||Yes (both versions)||3.4 p. 96; 3.5 p. 99; 3.6 p. 103; 3.9 p. 115|
|Content||STIs - Screening||No||Yes (both versions)||3.10 p. 118; also, Unit 6, Extension Activity 3|
|Content||STIs - Prevention||Yes||Yes (both versions)||2.11 p. 75; 3.6 p. 103; 3.7 p. 105; 3.10 p. 118; 3.11 p. 120; 4.6 p. 161; 5.8 p. 182|
|Content||STIs - Information||Yes||Yes (both versions)||3.7 p. 105; 3.10 p. 118|
|Content||Sexual risk reduction||Yes||Yes (both versions)||6.6 p. 202|
|Content||Sexual risk discontinuation||No|
|Content||Sexual risk avoidance||Yes||Yes (both versions)||3.4 p. 96; 6.6 p. 202|
|Content||Contraception - Pills, patches, rings, and shots||Yes||Yes (both versions)||3.11 p. 120|
|Content||Contraception - Condoms||Yes||Yes (both versions)||3.11 p. 120; 4.10 p. 161|
|Content||Contraception - Long-acting reversible contraceptives||Yes||Yes (both versions)||3.11 p. 120|
|Content||Contraception - Other||Yes||Yes (both versions)||3.11 p. 120|
|Content||Puberty/development||Yes||Yes (both versions)||4.4 p. 134|
LeadHer seeks to prevent and reduce sexual risk behavior by (1) increasing healthy relationship skills within friendships, family, and romantic relationships; (2) teaching adolescents life skills, such as goal setting, decision making, healthy communication skills, and leadership; (3) supporting their understanding of adolescent development and fostering healthy attitudes about adolescent growth and development; and (4) encouraging educational and career success.
LeadHer is based on the theory of planned behavior. The program includes information on the following four core content areas: (1) healthy relationships, (2) healthy relationship skills, (3) adolescent development, and (4) educational and career success.
The program delivers information on the core content areas in the following six units:
- Unit 1 – Leadership training. The focus of this unit is to discuss the qualities of a leader and identify changes participants would like to create in their own community.
- Unit 2 – Self-Love. The focus of this unit is to discuss how to have a positive self-image and how healthy relationships and boundaries create better leaders.
- Unit 3 – Risky Business. This unit focuses on discussing healthy sexuality, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and protection against unwanted pregnancy.
- Unit 4 – Society and Me. The focus of this unit is to discuss body image; the media; race and stereotypes; and the potential impacts of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
- Unit 5 – Future Me. This unit focuses on discussing college and career readiness.
- Unit 6 – LeadHer of Today. The focus of this unit is to review the content shared in Units 1–5. It includes a celebration.
LeadHer includes six group lessons with a peer educator. Sessions involve a variety of activities and discussions. Each activity begins with an introduction, which provides a bridge from the previous activity and helps create continuity throughout the program. Most activities also include a brief discussion, which is always led by peer educators. Some activities are done in a larger group; others are done while broken into small groups. Participants are given workbooks during their first unit. The workbooks include the required handouts for the activities and additional information for referencing later.
It is also highly recommended that youth participate in two goal-setting sessions with a case planner who will help youth make plans for their future and provide referrals to programs and services that support youths’ ongoing healthy growth and development.
LeadHer is designed to be delivered in six 5-hour weekly sessions; however, the program schedule can be adjusted to be delivered in 2.5-hour sessions twice a week, 1.75- hour sessions three times a week, or 1.5-hour sessions that total 30 hours of content. The program also includes two 1-hour individual sessions with a case planner.
LeadHer requires a project leader to oversee implementation of the program. It is delivered by trained peer educators supported by an adult facilitator and a case planner.
Program materials include a student workbook for participants and a curriculum manual for peer educators, the adult facilitator, and the case planner.
LeadHer has a fidelity checklist that the facilitator and case planners are required to complete after each session. The checklist tracks any changes or adaptations made to the program.
The project leader receives 40 hours of training from Alternatives For Girls. Project leaders then train youth peer educators, the adult facilitator, and the case planner on implementing the LeadHer curriculum. The implementation training is 42 hours long for youth peer educators, the adult facilitator, and the case planner; the training is typically delivered over the course of six days (seven hours per day). In addition to curriculum training, youth peer educators also receive six hours of training on direct coaching, support, and feedback from the facilitator.
Support for implementing LeadHer includes PowerPoint training slides for the facilitator and peer educators; forms for program administrators; surveys for staff and participants; social media posts; and separate training manuals for the program leader, facilitator, and peer educators.
If needed, Alternatives For Girls is also available to provide the following technical assistance and consultation support:
- One eight-hour introduction and orientation to all materials
- Two days of training for project leaders to understand the steps necessary to launch the curriculum and train peer educators, the facilitator, and case planners
- Up to 40 hours of consultation during implementation
LeadHer is designed to be delivered in six weekly five-hour Saturday sessions; however, the program schedule can be adjusted to be delivered in 2.5-hour sessions twice a week, 1.75-hour sessions three times a week, or 1.5-hour sessions that total 30 hours of content. Peer educators cannot abbreviate, skip, or change the order of activities or program content.
|Citation||Setting||Majority Age Group||Majority Racial/Ethnic Group||Gender||Sample Size|
Malofeeva et al. 2022
|In school: High school, After school, Mobile app||14 to 17||African American or Black||Young women||501|
Malofeeva et al. 2022
|The program was evaluated using a randomized controlled trial involving female-identifying youth ages 14-19. They were recruited through various events held by Alternatives for Girls (AFG) in the Detroit, Michigan, metro area. Participants were randomly assigned to either a treatment group that received the six-week LeadHer program or a control group that received a similarly intense Sassy Science curriculum of a similar duration whose content was not focused on teen pregnancy prevention. Surveys were administered immediately at baseline, after the end of the six-week program (immediate post-test, six weeks after study enrollment), six months after the program ended (six-month follow-up), and again 12 months after the program ended (12-month follow-up). The study found that 12 months after program end, girls participating in LeadHer reported a statistically significant increase in avoidance of unprotected sex compared with participants assigned to the control (effect size = 0.50). Differences in avoidance of unprotected sex were not significantly different from zero for either the six-month follow-up or the immediate post-test. The study also found that at 12 months after program end, girls participating in LeadHer and those in the control group were not significantly different in terms of having a reported pregnancy. The study also examined program impacts on rates of birth control use and condom use for a subgroup of participants who indicated they were sexually active in the three months preceding data collection. These contrasts received a low rating|