Friday, February 09, 2001

Video encourages abstinence

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        What started as a teen's favor to her mother has turned into a nationwide tool to discourage premarital sex.

        Tara Adlard, 17, a St. Ursula Academy junior, helped produce a video and curriculum for her mother, Carole Adlard, director of Adoption Option. The nonprofit agency tries to educate youth and adults on the consequences of premarital sex.

[photo] Tara Adlard speaks to fellow students at St. Ursula Academy during a health class about the videos she helped to make.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
| ZOOM |
        Adoption Option — with AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati and Social Health Education, a nonprofit agency that provides sex education to schools and community groups — produced the video, which focuses on potential consequences of teen sex: pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and AIDS.

        The video, Why Abstinence? The Price Tag of Casual Sex, is being shown at 10 Tristate middle and high schools in health or morality classes, which then use Tara's curriculum as a springboard for discussion. The material is for grades 7-10.

        Feedback from students indicates the materials are having an impact.

        “The video is straightforward,” the Montgomery teen said. “It will tell you abstinence is the best choice.”

        The video's real-life stories from a teen mom and a woman who has AIDS warn that a fleeting passion can change — or take — lives. It's a sobering message that resonates with teen-agers more than textbooks or preaching.

        “Reading it on a piece of paper is just words, but seeing people and what they go through — I'm sure it was absolutely nothing like what they really are going through,” said Jennifer Maddox, a 14-year-old St. Ursula freshman from Cherry Grove.

        After watching the video, students who were thinking about having sex said they decided against it. Those already sexually active planned to tell their boyfriend or girlfriend they were going to abstain.

        When Ms. Adlard needed help writing the curriculum and discussion materials, she turned to Tara, who could write in a language that teens understood. Tara spent last summer researching and writing. She was also present during part of the videotaping last year.

        The project strengthened her convictions about premarital sex.

        “Before, I wanted to stay abstinent until I was married, but it's even a bigger concern now,” Tara said. Premarital sex “changes your life, and you don't have to do it. It shouldn't be a priority.”

        The video and curriculum are being marketed by HRM Videos to schools nationwide.

        In Mary Porter's health class at St. Ursula Academy, students were attentive throughout the video, especially in its final minutes. The video ends with the story of Kelly Chambers, a Cleves woman who has AIDS. She didn't know she had the disease until her daughter, Crystal, was diagnosed. Fourteen-month-old Crystal died in her mother's arms in 1991.

        The silence in the classroom was followed by a frank discussion. Students connected with the movie, they said, because it didn't preach.

        “This movie definitely impacted my life,” said Jessica Kirkpatrick, a 15-year-old freshman from Anderson Township. “I didn't know how serious and how painful it could be for a little child.”

        Students discussed how teen-agers think they're immune from anything bad, but the video showed pregnancy and STDs and AIDS can happen to anyone.

        “I thought it was really interesting that every single person said it wouldn't happen to them,” said Julie Rueger, 14, a freshman from Monfort Heights.
       When faced with the choice to be sexually active or not, students vowed they would remember the video, but one student suggested they must decide now.

        “You have to know before you go into a situation,“ said Shannon Robertshaw, 17-year-old junior from Pleasant Ridge. “If you're not in the right frame of mind, you might not make a good decision. Your body takes control over your mind.”

       Schools can buy Why Abstinence? The Price Tag of Casual Sex for $141 or sign up for a free, three-class program to be presented next school year. For information, call Adoption Option at 793-7268.


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