Real Talk launches at a critical time: 37 states do not require medically accurate sex education in schools, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services just cut over $200 million in funding for teen pregnancy prevention, which will result in even fewer sexual health resources available to teens.
Real Talk’s educational, youth-derived stories are reviewed by public health professionals before publishing, and are presented as text message conversations in the app. Teens feel most comfortable learning about sexual health in a private setting - like their phones - and feel better when they know others are going through the same situations. Users can support others in the app through emoji reactions, search for topics relevant to them, and access links to high quality sexual health resources online if they want to learn more.
As an 8th grade student at KIPP Gaston College Prep in Gaston, North Carolina, Demonte Edwards said, “Some people really don’t have the confidence to talk to your parents about it. So this is a good place you can come to to get advice.”
Years of research and hundreds of interviews with middle schoolers informed their strategy. After successfully pilot testing with students in North Carolina, the team is ready to expand through a public beta launch. This will allow more teens to access the app and provide feedback to develop better content and more robust features. Results from this beta launch will help Real Talk hone in on the most important features as they continue building out the product over the next several months.
“Having lived and worked in areas with little to no access to sex education, I’ve seen first hand the impact this has on youth,” says Cristina Leos, a co-founder of Real Talk. “With only 50% of teen mothers receiving a high school diploma by the time they turn 22, this was an issue we couldn’t ignore. Real Talk presents sex education in a way that resonates with middle-school students, by meeting them on their phones and showing them they are not alone.”
Real Talk was founded by a team of women - Cristina Leos, Vichi Jagannathan, and Liz Chen - and to date has been supported by prominent organizations like the Office of Adolescent Health (Grant number: TP2AH000023-02-00), The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, the Aetna Foundation, and Fast Forward, with a total of $465,000 in funding. Real Talk’s parent organization, MyHealthEd, Inc., is dedicated to improving youth health education through technology.
For more information, visit www.realtalkapp.com.
About MyHealthEd, Inc.
MyHealthEd, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to improving youth health education through technology. MyHealthEd, Inc. was founded in 2016 by Liz Chen, Cristina Leos, and Vichi Jagannathan, in efforts to increase access to sex education in low-income and rural communities. The organization is based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. For more information, visit www.myhealthed.org.
Vichi Jagannathan, Co-Founder
Phone: (845) 702-6802