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Grad student helps middle-schoolers

Rivers oversaw the project for Youth as Resources, a community service initiative, in working with eighth-grade students at Bethlehem's Northeast Middle School to create the video that encourages abstinence.

The video is currently being shared with the students as part of the Choices program, an after-school abstinence-only program that is run by the Lehigh Valley Coalition to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, and will be offered for education purposes nationally.

"The video is a significant accomplishment for the YAR program, and we are so excited about it," said Dorinda Frey-Perdick, YAR program director. In Bethlehem, the YAR program is hosted at the city's YMCA under the direction of Dorinda Frey-Perdick and Dr. Bonnie Coyle, director of St. Luke's Hospital Community Health department.

The YAR Goes to College program was created in the summer of 2001 through the efforts of Frey-Perdick, Dr. Judith Lasker, NEH Distinguished Professor of sociology at Lehigh, and former Lehigh graduate student Jennifer Nesci. Since then, YAR has awarded more than $3,500 for community youth group service projects
The teen abstinence video project arose out a desire on the part of several young female students to promote a lifestyle that did not glamorize or endorse teenage pregnancy. For her part, Rivers says that she is glad that the students' work has an outlet.

"You could tell that this cause was really important to them," said Rivers, who described her work with the young students as "a passion."

In the film, Northeast Middle School students play the parts of teenage parents, who share their frustrations and concerns about the choices they've made. Many talk about the sacrifices they have to make because they are now parents, while others lament the loss of options in their lives.

Although the research for the film, the development of the story line, and the writing of the grant proposals was all done by the students, Rivers helped with rewrites and located a director for the project.

The film may eventually become part of the district's middle school health curriculum, pending further approval by administrators within the Bethlehem School District.

Youth As Resources is a collaboration between the Bethlehem YMCA, the Bethlehem Partnership for a Healthy Community, and the community. Grants from $100 to $1,000 are provided to enable young people to design and carry out service projects that address social problems and contribute to significant social change.

-- Linda Harbrecht
lmh2@lehigh.edu

Posted on Sunday, March 16, 2003

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