Reaching Out to Area Young People

A small town has big hopes for area young people.

When school ends for a group of Lafayette County students, it's time to head back to class, to learn a lesson that community leaders say is crucial.

"It teaches me how to be abstinent and stay abstinent," says 11-year-old Bre Massey of the Club Valor and Virtue program.

Through discussions and activities, about 20, 9 to18-year-olds attend the Club Valor and Virtue program in the afternoons at Bethel of Mount Sinai Church.

Fifteen-year-old Taquelia Macklin helps out at the abstinence education program.
She says, "We're here to teach students to be abstinent, because most people are getting pregnant at an early age. We are here to help prevent that and help youth to stay abstinent."

A community survey revealed that students needed a positive, educational place to spend their time after school.

In response, the church is building an outreach center to expand the abstinence program. This will allow the program to serve more than three times the number of students and provide a variety of services.

Pastor Carolyn Demps explains, "Abstinence is just one of them. We want to provide training to parents, provide G.E.D. education. You name it, we want to do it. If it'll serve the community and make our citizens here more sufficient, that's what we want to do."

The Alms of Bethel Outreach Center is expected to open late this year.

The abstinence program is funded by the Florida Department of Health.