DEL RIO—Students at Del Rio Middle School are learning the importance of making wise decisions about abstaining from drugs, alcohol and premarital sex, thanks to the Baptist Child & Family Services Right Choices for Life program.
Nineteen students in grades 7 and 8 are taking their commitment to abstinence to a new level by raising funds to attend the annual National Abstinence Clearinghouse Association conference in Orlando, Fla., July 21-27.
“I want to participate in the conference to meet other students who have the same goals as me and will encourage me to stay away from drugs and alcohol,” Jazmin Blancarte said.
At the conference, the youth will have the opportunity to meet students across the nation making the same commitment to abstinence.
Program organizers see it as a great opportunity for the students to establish themselves as leaders in positive decision-making as they enter the 9th grade, where no program exists currently.
“We only have a short window of time to influence these students,” said program director Aliyah McKinney. “This conference is a great opportunity to give them vision and goals for the future.”
For many of the youth raising funds to attend the conference, it will be their first time on an airplane— or even outside of Del Rio.
“I’m looking forward to meeting other people in Orlando who also want the best out of life,” Valeria Rivera said.
Raising money to attend
Students have been working to raise enough money to attend the conference by washing cars, sponsoring a bake sale and writing request letters to local businesses.
The fundraising provides an opportunity for the youth to practice community service and for the Del Rio community to support for the students as they commit to abstinence.
“I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to help us raise money for the trip,” said Luis R. Banuelous. “Right Choices for Life has made a huge impact on me and taught my friends and me how to hold each other accountable.”
Right Choices for Life, offered at Del Rio Middle School for 12 weeks every semester, encourages students to practice abstinence from at-risk behavior including drug and alcohol abuse and premarital sex.
As part of the program, Baptist Child & Family Services also offers monthly family fun activities as a venue for the students to make healthy decisions, while offering parents and teachers training to help promote abstinence.
With the help of the Del Rio community, 90 percent of the students in grades 7 and 8 participated in the program this past school year.
“Our goal is to teach these students integrity through abstaining from at-risk activities in order to keep our youth and community safe,” McKinney explained.