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The Alpha Omega Care Center is planning to partner with college stu­dents to teach local youth “Willing to Wait” cur­riculum. | Facebook

The REALL team from the Alpha Omega Care Center hopes to bring its message of respecting the dignity of the indi­vidual to local youth, according to Team Director Nancy DeBacker.

“I love the name, ‘Respect every­thing about Life and Love,’ because it focuses on the dignity of the indi­vidual,” DeBacker said. “There’s so much going on now, with #MeToo and abuse and bul­lying and neg­ative, unhealthy rela­tion­ships, so we really want to focus on healthy rela­tion­ships.”

The team aims to recruit college stu­dents who are “com­mitted to upholding the value and dignity of human life, pro­moting sexual integrity and purity, and empow­ering young people to make informed deci­sions about the emo­tional, physical, and spir­itual aspects of their sex­u­ality,” according to their pro­mo­tional flyer.

Stu­dents will work with the center to introduce their sexual risk avoidance cur­riculum to Hillsdale Inter­me­diate School Dis­trict and local church youth groups. With regard to schools, the cur­riculum must be approved by the sex edu­cation board of the school county. According to DeBacker, the process has begun but is still cur­rently pending.

Even if the school board doesn’t accept the cur­riculum, “Willing to Wait,” the team will con­tinue forward with church youth groups and parent edu­cation nights. It has recently been imple­mented in Kent ISD.

The care center has worked with Hillsdale stu­dents in the past to promote an absti­nence program, which had some success in the early 1990s and then in the mid-2000s. After the program fizzled out, DeBacker decided to bring it back.

“It’s a won­derful oppor­tunity for stu­dents to have an oppor­tunity for impact: to be inspi­ra­tions, role models, and to chal­lenge middle school and high school youth to the higher ground by respecting them­selves, their own dignity, and the dignity of indi­viduals,” DeBacker said.

Freshman Sophia Berryhill is the team student contact who will be respon­sible for con­necting stu­dents to the center. According to Berryhill, the program rep­re­sented a harmony of certain interests and pur­suits she has.

“It was kind of a natural fun­neling for me in my interests and per­sonal stories I had heard in my high school youth group,” Berryhill said. “I’m seeing this as a way I can hope­fully share, in light of my interests and the stories from people close to me, how to nav­igate [sex­u­ality] as a young person.”

Since the cur­riculum will involve college-aged stu­dents and contain more bio­logical expla­nation than the typical absti­nence cur­riculum, Berryhill hopes this strategy will be more effective.

“While this cur­riculum is still pro­moting waiting to have sex until mar­riage, the way that we’re going about that is dif­ferent and that will better people a lot more,” Berryhill said. “A lot of people don’t get the reasons. We’re trying to speak into how [sex before mar­riage] can hurt you emo­tionally and phys­i­cally and spir­i­tually and how all of those things are inter­con­nected spir­i­tually.”

While the current sexual edu­cation fails to fill in all the gaps, the new cur­riculum will tie these ele­ments together, Berryhill said.

“There’s some­thing lacking in how people talk about con­tra­ception and birth control,” Berryhill said. “The hor­monal effects and the mental health effects that birth control has proved to have on women is not really talked about enough. There’s a lot of stuff in the middle that you need to fill in.”

Director of Health Ser­vices Brock Lutz spoke to this missing element in the current con­ver­sation.

“Our culture is in a crisis in this area and cer­tainly someone needs to speak to these topics,” Lutz wrote in an email. “I find that many Christian, con­ser­v­ative fam­ilies are actually hes­itant to talk to their kids openly about sex or don’t exactly know how to do that and thus the culture is coming in and inserting its own beliefs.”

Lutz went on to say that the con­ver­sation needs to include the “why” behind waiting until mar­riage.

“There needs to be a voice that [says] waiting until mar­riage is the best choice that young people can make sex­ually and that every young person is actually capable of that or can make dif­ferent choices once they have started down that road,” Lutz said.

According to Lutz, young people need to hear a clearer message than the one they hear from the current culture.

“I do believe we are suf­fering from many mixed mes­sages about this cul­turally and so the message needs to be very clear and a very pos­itive message that this is the best way to nav­igate through pre­marital life and the best choices in order to set up the healthiest mar­riage in the future,” Lutz said.

DeBacker said the “Willing to Wait” cur­riculum and REALL Team pre­sen­ta­tions will educate young people “based on factual and solid infor­mation.”

“It’s more than just saying no,” DeBacker said. “This gen­er­ation of young people wants to know why. We want to treat people with respect and them asking why is valid. We want to give people all of the tools, the who, what, when, where, and why for them to become the best version of them­selves.”

DeBacker’s expe­rience with pre­vious absti­nence pro­grams in Hillsdale has shown that the involvement of college stu­dents is invaluable. For many young people, choosing to not be sex­ually active was simply never an option pre­sented to them, Debacker said.

“So many times over the years, we’ve had stu­dents say, ‘No one ever told me I had the choice to say, ‘No, I’m not going to fall in that behavior,’” DeBacker said. “That was stunning to me. That’s why I love to see the REALL team, the young men and women, give that message because it res­onates with the stu­dents.”