North Star Youth Partnership

North Star Youth Partnership engages youth ages 11-18 through educational, recreational, leadership and service-learning opportunities. What started in 1997 as an educational program to prevent adolescent pregnancy in Yavapai County has expanded to 11 different programs serving youth in Central and Northern Arizona.

Thursday, 15 June 2023

Sex Education in an Empowering, Inclusive Environment

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Although teens are on the path to adulthood, they’re still at an age where decisions are often made for them. They’re told where to go, who or who not to hang out with, and what to learn at school. After 25 years of serving youth, North Star Youth Partnership, a program of Catholic Charities, understands the value of making students active participants in their own education.

North Star Helps Youth Create a Brighter Future

The North Star legacy began in the late 90s when Senior Program Manager Diane DeLong was hired to implement a teen pregnancy prevention program. What started as a program to bring attention to teen pregnancy soon transformed into a mission to help youth be healthy and self-assured in all areas of life.

Today, North Star has expanded to include 15 different programs in Coconino, Maricopa, and Yavapai counties. These educational, recreational, leadership, and service-learning opportunities nurture youth and encourage confidence and positive choices.

Sexual Risk Avoidance Education Teaches the Facts

North Star’s Sexual Risk Avoidance Education (SRAE) isn’t a typical sex education program. SRAE teaches middle and high school students to approach their questions about sex with curiosity rather than embarrassment.

SRAE provides teens with medically accurate information that’s inclusive and non-stigmatizing. Students learn the risks of non-marital sexual activity, including sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy, and emotional impacts. But SRAE also involves students in discussions about healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, setting boundaries, self-esteem, goal setting, decision making, and avoidance of risk-taking behaviors.

Students Show Their Gratitude

There's something about SRAE and North Star’s other programs that touches youth and truly speaks to them. It’s not uncommon for North Star educators to hear positive feedback from their students. One eighth grader said, “Thank you so much. I did not know it is okay to say no.”

SRAE is just as informative and engaging for high schoolers as it is for middle schoolers. “Thank you for helping me discover a path to reach my goals. I never really thought about them like this before this class,” said a 10th grade student.

If you know of a school, district, or organization that would benefit from a program like North Star Youth Partnership, please email Diane DeLong at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Cristy Leonard at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We are always looking to expand and reach more youth in Arizona.

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Cristy Leonard

Cristy Leonard is the Health Education Supervisor in Maricopa for North Star Youth Partnership. Cristy earned her bachelor’s degree in Health and Physical Education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia and has been teaching for 25 years. She has been providing Health Education through North Star Youth Partnership to teens throughout the Valley since 2003.


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