H.E.A.R.T: An Innovative Program Shaping Social Norms and Promoting Healthy Relationships for Youth & Young Adults


Promoting Health Relationships presented by Jennifer Ponce

Jennifer Ponce, CHES

Prevention & Education Manager, Laura's House

CHES 1.0* | ICHWC 1.0 |CDR 1.0

Laura’s House successfully provides a comprehensive and effective range of accessible programs and services that address the issue of domestic violence and promote community health and wellness, including a comprehensive prevention education program.

Using a social ecological model, Laura’s House has developed a successful dating violence prevention program by creating a free educational, one-hour interactive school-based program for students to address this wide spread issue of dating violence. Through Healthy Emotions and Attitudes in Relationships Today or H.E.A.R.T. we cover the following issues: healthy relationships and healthy boundaries, self-esteem, recognizing signs of abuse, how to help a friend, and resources.

Since 2007, we have used strategic implementation and evaluation strategies to develop this program. In the early stages, we fostered relationships with community stakeholders to bring this intervention to over 75 high schools, middle schools, colleges and universities. We use questionnaires to evaluate and enhance the program annually.

The H.E.A.R.T program has resulted in 1,505 presentations given to 61,483 pre-teens, teens, and young adults. 94.3% of all H.E.A.R.T. participants report now knowing how to identify a healthy relationship. 93% of all participants report knowing how to get help or help a friend if they are in an unhealthy relationship. Since the implementation of H.E.A.R.T., over 10,000 students have taken a pledge to raise awareness to stop teen dating violence in their communities.

Presenter Bio(s):

Jennifer Ponce, CHES is the prevention and education manager with Laura’s House, a nonprofit that offers shelter and services to domestic violence survivors in Orange County, Calif. She is a Certified Health Education Specialist and graduated from Utah Valley University with a degree in Community Health with an emphasis in Community Health Education. She will be completing her Master of Social Work degree from Boston University in 2018.
Jennifer has performed community outreach and education domestically and internationally. Working tirelessly in poverty stricken areas of area of Costa Rica, she aided members of the community in becoming self-sufficient by helping the population thrive in its own setting. Using evidenced based methods she developed and implemented community classes that covered everything from essential job skills and sanitation to basic gardening techniques.

Jennifer has also worked with political refugees from various countries plagued by civil war and poverty who fled their republics with the help of the United Nations and found refuge in Phoenix, Arizona. She was a part of the organizational process in developing and implementing English classes for refugees from various countries. On many occasions she found herself working as a resource person, finding assistance for participants from community programs based on their individual needs. She was a listening ear when they told stories of the social injustices they had faced. For some of them abuse, neglect, corruption, and war were all too familiar.
Jennifer went on to work for the State of Utah at the Utah State hospital where she worked with children, forensic patients, and the aging population. Under the supervision of the registered nurse and lead clinical social worker Jennifer aided in conducting psycho educational and symptom management patient groups; as well as educated patients and provided counseling in regards to health, mental health, rehabilitation and worked very closely with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Jennifer is passionate about social welfare, a believer in human rights, an advocate for mental health awareness, and a participant in community development. She has worked with the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, and is a former member of the Utah Public Health Association.
Jennifer plays an essential role in the fight against Domestic Violence. Today Jennifer is a highly sought after speaker throughout Orange County, CA. Jennifer has been featured on 102.7 KIIS-FM & AM 790 – KABC Talk Radio, as well as in The Orange County Register, Orange County Family Magazine, and Attorney Journal OC. Jennifer is a speaker and guest lecturer at high schools, universities, and at national conferences.