Alleghany Pregnancy Care Center (APCC) and Rotary Club of Alleghany County worked together to procure funds for student manuals: “Choosing the Best Sexual Risk Avoidance Program.” The Choosing the Best program is provided to all students sixth through ninth grades in Alleghany County Schools, through a partnership between Alleghany Pregnancy Care Center and the Alleghany County School System. The funds Rotary and APCC secured through a grant will be used to purchase 300 books for the next school year.

Ronda Patrick and Tammy Mason have been doing this instructional program for 3 years. Patrick is the Executive Director and Mason is the Client Services Director at the Alleghany Pregnancy Care Center. They approached the school system to teach the Choosing the Best program, which came to light through their pregnancy care network because they saw a gap that this program could fill.

Mason and Patrick do not teach anatomy as might be typical in a sex education class. Rather, the Choosing the Best program focuses on reasons for self-care, mental and physical readiness for a relationship, as well as consequences of decisions such as sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies. Although uncommon, there are some middle and high school clients at APCC, but Ronda and Tammy qualify it to say they don’t see every underage person who could benefit from their services.

With this program, students gain the freedom to ask questions in class that they might not ask at home. They learn information for them to make healthy choices in advance of being in a sticky situation. The program covers topics like sexting and the consequences of it, including who can ultimately be charged for sexting like the sender, as well as the viewer. Students learn how to not be pressured into making unhealthy decisions that they’re not emotionally ready for. They are encouraged to take their books and continue the discussion at home with their parents.

Students learn contact information to hotlines and outreach centers if they feel like they have been sexually violated or know of someone who may be a victim of sexual abuse.

Choosing the Best emphasizes making good choices, having goals, choosing good friends, delaying sex so one can meet one’s goals, building one’s own self-esteem, and establishing meaningful relationships. Several parents and teachers expressed appreciation for this program as it creates an open dialogue for students outside the classroom.

The current economy had to limit funding this “outside” program with school funds, so 300 middle school student manuals have been purchased through a Rotary grant. The Alleghany Rotary Club raised funds through selling chicken dinners from Port-O-Pit of Statesville. APCC matched those funds, and Rotary District 7680 (from Mecklenburg to Alleghany) matched those combined amounts. Rotary’s next chicken dinner is Thursday, December 2 in front of Sparta Elementary. Please come out to support Rotary’s projects in the schools and in the community! To join or ask questions about Rotary, contact club president Steve Buteau at 401-824-9190.