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Healthy Respect Takes Message to Bronx Youth Empowerment Summit
Abstinence Message Well Received by Attendees

Healthy Respect took its life-affirming abstinence message out of the classroom and into the wider community, taking part in the Youth Empowerment Summit in the Bronx. The Healthy Respect theme of “DO NO HARM” (to yourself, to others or to your future) was well received by the young people at the event, many of whom remarked that they had never heard a complete presentation on the benefits of abstinence before marriage.

Camella Pinkney-Price, CEO and founder of The Legacy Coalition organized the event to educate and inspire young people toward successful personal and professional career paths. It included music and other forms of entertainment and motivational speakers who told their personal success stories and emphasized the need to make good choices during the teen years. The coalition is a community-based organization that is associated with the office of New York State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. Speakers included Kim Hampton of the Women’s National Basketball Association, several undercover police officers, and Assemblyman Ruben Diaz, Jr., son of the state senator.

Mrs. Zalika Warren makes the case for abstinence at the Bronx Youth Empowerment Summit in NYC

Healthy Respect teacher Zalika Warren was one of the more popular speakers with a message that made the young people think seriously about the direction of their lives. She recounted a real story about a 16-year-old girl who had sex with an older man. The man was arrested for statutory rape yet ended up killing the teen on Valentine’s Day.

While stressing that the young woman did nothing to invite or deserve being murdered, Zalika challenged the participants to think of choices she could have made to avoid such a situation. After discussing many possibilities, most teens agreed that choosing not to have sex at such a young age was the best route.

“Once you decide to have sex, you open yourself up to a whole range of negative consequences, such as sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy and bad relationships,” said Zalika as she charted the negatives on a piece of paper. “If you choose not to have sex, though, you can just rip this paper up. You don’t have to worry about any of these consequences, and you are free to focus on your education and your goals in life.”

Zalika received some heartfelt questions from teens that said that they get conflicting messages from adults, some of whom say to abstain and others who push contraceptives and condoms because they don’t believe kids can stay away from sex. The teens said they respected the positive message that they can control themselves and plan their futures.

Dolly McLemore, curriculum coordinator of Healthy Respect, said that events such as the summit “help build our presence and visibility in the community. We were there to support the message of the summit, which was that inner-city kids need to take charge of the direction of their lives by staying in school in order to realize their personal and professional goals.”

Healthy Respect “benefits the young people who hear the positive message of abstinence,” she added. “They see that we can help them achieve their goals by giving them the tools to make healthy choices at this important period in their lives.”