Board members needed to keep Teen-Ed program running

  • Mar. 16, 2016 2:59 p.m.

Board members are needed to help keep an educational program up and running in the City.

Teen-Ed has been offered in Red Deer schools for over 20 years. Financially, the non-profit organization is in decent shape, but a number of longstanding board members have given their notice to step down after working tirelessly for years, and if four to six new board members are not found by April, the organization will have no choice but to fold.

According to the brochure, the purpose of Teen-Ed is to encourage abstinence as a realistic pre-marital lifestyle for teens by increased understanding of their sexuality, fostering a respect for their power to create life, and promoting stronger, more effective communications between parents and teens.

“The main thing that I love about the program is believing that teens can make good decisions as long as they have accurate information,” said Shari Moore, the education coordinator for Teen-Ed and who has been teaching the program for 16 years. “The underlying piece of it is just about respect. It’s about respecting yourself and understanding why making healthy sexual choices is so important – that it does have major lifetime, long-term consequences.”

The goals of Teen-Ed include enhancing self-esteem, enabling teens to make lifestyle choices which promote their physical, emotional and relational well-being; to provide information for teens enabling them to make healthy personal, sexuality and lifestyle choices; increase communication levels between parents and their children; reduce teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease; and inform the community about the aims, philosophy and objectives of Teen-Ed.

There are three different age-appropriate programs taught within Teen-Ed which include one for Grade 5-6 students, one for Grade 8-9 students and one for high school-aged students.

Topics discussed include human growth and development, self-esteem and decision making, communication skills, understanding societal pressures, peer pressure reversal, friendship and dating and rights and responsibilities.

In teaching the program for 16 years, Moore said the statistics of sexual activity amongst teenagers hasn’t changed that much.

“When teaching Grade 9 students, there’s a fluctuation of about five per cent, but it isn’t that everyone is doing it. In high school we’re seeing a little bit of fluctuation,” she said. “But I think where we are seeing a higher rate is with the idea of sexting and pornography.”

As for needing more board members, Moore said there is minimal commitment annually.

“Some of the responsibilities of the board members are to make decisions for the direction of the program and to engage in the fundraising. The board members meet once a month for nine months of the year – we don’t meet in December or the summer months,” she said. “It isn’t a huge commitment but if we don’t have new board members by April, the decision will be made to close this organization.”

In addition, Moore said she is hopeful the Teen-Ed program can continue to be offered in Central Alberta.

“We do have a strong presence in a lot of schools. The program is just invaluable. The kids buy into it. It really is about engaging in reality and it’s really eye-opening,” she said. “I have been talking with some of the schools about the possibility of this program not being offered anymore and they are upset because they see what a huge impact this has on their students.”

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For more information visit www.teenedreddeer.ca or call 403-343-6135.

efawcett@reddeerexpress.com

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