As a facilitator for the last eight years for Women’s Services of Chautauqua County, a pregnancy resource center in Jamestown, I have brought to Chautauqua and Warren County schools a workshop entitled R.E.A.L. Essentials (Relationship Education and Leadership). Sharon Hamilton, Executive Director of Women’s Services, has been faithfully driving this endeavor for the almost 20 years these classes have been offered to our county schools.
I stood in the Health classroom at an area school to begin the four-day R.E.A.L.
Essentials workshop. We were about half way through the day’s lessons and I was sharing with the students the importance of considering that the choices that are made today could have devastating consequences that can affect their futures.
We were brainstorming about some of the choices that students are faced with. We discussed drugs, alcohol, gambling, peer pressure, pre-marital sex, etc. One student started to share about her friend who had gone with a guy for two months and then had sex with him. She started to cry as she told us that soon after they had sex, he stopped seeing her. She was very burdened for her friend. She laid her head on the desk as she quietly wept.
While the teacher went out to get some tissues for her, I reiterated to the class the question I asked earlier, “How much of yourself are you willing to give away and at what cost?” Previous to this exchange, we talked about the five components of who we are and what makes up the whole person stressing the fact that our everyday choices do not affect just the physical part of who we are but how our choices touch every part of our being—the mental, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects of our lives.
The classes met every other day so the next day I had a new class of students and much to my surprise, again one of the girls broke down crying. We were discussing dysfunctional families when she raised her hand to share how upsetting it was to see her stepfather abuse her mom. So many of the students raised their hands when I asked how many knew someone with addictions. I asked how many had been affected personally and the show of hands was truly overwhelming.
I love reaching out to the teens in our area schools. In the years I have been involved with these workshops, in every school I sense there is a hunger for truth and a desire to do what is right; but with the mixed messages our young people receive every day, and with the family unit falling apart, they do not always know what is right and what is wrong.
It is a time like none other to pray for our youth and the families in our communities and to allow the tide of change to shift our culture through renewed minds and hearts and allow God to lead us through combined efforts to seek and help the broken by connecting like never before. I believe this is the generation that can break the chains! The words of the song “Courageous” give a beautiful picture, “the only way we’ll ever stand is on our knees with lifted hands.” Pray like never before for this generation. It’s time!!
I am so amazed by the way these students open up. They must need an outlet. Asking questions and listening is so important.