Learning to Say "NO"

Local officials are encouraging youth to make positive life decisions. Yes, it's summertime, but that doesn't mean learning has to end.

Chelsea Sparrow, 16 years old, said, "I learned that it's great to wait and not have sex until you're married. Also, that it's difficult to have a baby in high school or to have drugs clog your vision and your decisions that you make."

Nurses Alissa McQuiston and Anna Strickland have been conducting abstinence education classes at the Jerkins' Boys and Girls Clubs, using interactive activities and games to illustrate to the middle and high schoolers the importance of abstaining from sex until marriage.

Chris Britt, 15 years old, said, "It's fun because we play different games and learned all about STDs and stuff we never heard of."

Alissa McQuiston, RN, a school health nurse, said, "We do have a high pregnancy rate and we have a high rate of STDs, just like any of our north Florida communities; we do have that problem. It's up to us to take charge and resolve those issues."

The program is funded through a $30,000 federal grant. It also includes physical education and health, which is being taught through this relay exercise.

The federal abstinence only grant has been increased to$ 60,000, which will allow the program to continue in the upcoming school year.