As the fourth annual abstinence awareness week kicks off, ULTRA (Urban Life Training and Reality Assessment) Teen Choice held an event at Howard University to promote abstinence awareness. ULTRA Teen Choice is a youth empowerment program that guides youth toward the formation of two-parent families and positive character development by emphasizing the benefits of abstinence from drugs, alcohol and premarital sex.
Richard Urban, ULTRA Teen Choice Co-founder, said he founded the program because “it’s important to guide youth in the right direction.” He also said “abstinence programs are no longer allowed in DC schools.” The programs have been removed because special assistant to Chancellor Michelle Rhee, Richard Nayankori, said “the chancellor has placed a moratorium on all external providers of health and consumer education. Her goal is to ensure providers’ programs are consistent with DC standards.” Urban said he never received a response as to what standards were not being met.
Urban met with Nayankori in December 2007 and was told that “since he is opposed to the inclusion of gender identity and sexual orientation as topics of discussion for middle school, as proposed for the New Health Education Standards, that the Chancellor will not approve his program.”
The Washington AIDS International Teen (WAIT) group is a performing arts group that educates youth about the dangers of HIV/AIDS and empowers youth to use their talents to make a difference in the world, revolutionizing culture and modeling abstinence and faithful life partnership. The group includes middle-school to college-age students and believes in using talent to teach and stop HIV.
The WAIT Team gave a break-dance performance and sang an original song entitled “Wait for Me.” They closed with a dance to Aretha Franklin’s “A Rose is Still a Rose” and the audience began to applaud and sing along with the lyrics. The entertainment didn’t stop with the WAIT team; later on Howard University’s Alpha Omega Steppers for Christ did a performance that received applause from the audience, and gospel singer Angelia Robinson gave a performance.
The Youth Panel, which included students from various colleges, gave reasons why they were abstinent and what abstinence means to them. Anthony Hider, music producer and Life Coach said “abstinence means patience and there’s beauty in waiting.” Ethleen Sawyer, a Howard University student, said that “in the African culture it shames the family to have sex out of wedlock and I don’t want to shame my family and I also want to be able to say to my husband I saved myself for you.” Ongel Dasilva, a junior at the University of Maryland said that “abstinence represents my relationship with God and sexual purity reduces HIV and unwanted pregnancies.” Yun-a Johnson, an American University freshman and member of the Collegiate Association for the Research of Principles (CARP) said, “I want to be an example for my siblings and for people in the community.”
After the Youth panel David Reed, a parent, spoke out on the event’s theme “Marriage and Family Matter.” Reed said “we need to have discussions at home with the family.” He believes parents should guide their children toward an abstinent lifestyle and that parents are important and should have discussions with their children.
Diane Sims Moore, Families First DC Executive Director, spoke on how abstinence strengthens the individual and the community and said that “when you don’t engage in negative activities you won’t have negative outcomes.” Moore believed abstaining from negative choices is positive and that abstaining from sex before marriage will produce a positive effect.
Kenny Barnes, Root Inc. director, spoke on how sexual promiscuity leads youth in the wrong direction. Barnes said “you have to get back to family.” He believes that the family is the epicenter of the problem and to help they should serve as role models and talk to their children.
The next speaker was Kristi Love, a counselor at Maya Angelou High School and Howard Alumna. Love spoke on bringing a culture of respect, healthy relationships and abstinence to Howard University and the DC community. Love said that “it takes a village to raise a child.” Love believes the community should support abstinence and she believes that “when you choose to be abstinent, you are choosing self-control and you are choosing to learn more about yourself.”