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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

KANSAS: School Abstinence Program Loses Funding


Kansas City Star (01.07.09) - Thursday, January 08, 2009

This fall, the Wyandotte County-based Haven Center Inc. learned its federal abstinence grant will not be renewed. The center, which was founded in 1995 as a home for pregnant teens and evolved into a life-skills program, had provided the Kansas City, Kan., School District with an abstinence-only curriculum.

"Even though the main focus was abstinence education, we deal with overall health as well as teaching social skills," said Pat Tramble, Haven's former executive director. She no longer works at the center due to a lack of funding.

The curriculum was given over a three-year period to students at Rosedale and Arrowhead middle schools and Wyandotte, Sumner, and Schlagle high schools. It was presented to students once a week over a nine-week period.

"They just do a really good job of connecting with the kids," said Terry Messenheimer, a physical education instructor at Rosedale Middle School. "The kids really liked it because they could open up with them and talk about dating and relationships. I'll be really upset if they can't continue the program; they really cared about these kids." In 2005, Haven received a federal grant totaling more than $670,000 annually to bring its life-skills programs to youths ages 12-18 in Wyandotte County. It unsuccessfully applied to have the grant renewed this fall, said Tramble. That forced the center to put the school program on hold.

"Abstinence education is an important part of our comprehensive sex and HIV/AIDS education curriculum," said Jean Ney, a district education coordinator. "Pat and her trainers met kids where they were and provided important supplemental education about the consequences of careless sexual behavior." Ney said the district will look to see whether curriculum adjustments are needed.


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