- The Washington Times - Friday, June 12, 2009

Servants Without Borders and ULTRA Teen Choice recently kicked off the YOUth Awakening Abstinence Revolution campaign in Washington. The event featured speakers, including several youths, who discussed the importance of sexual abstinence.

“God, what is my purpose? How can I make a difference in the world?” That’s what Lynura Jones, who served as mistress of ceremonies, said she asked upon learning that blacks account for 55 percent of reported HIV infections among 13- to 24-year-olds. “The Christian community, if no one else, needs to stand up, because we have been quiet for way too long.”

Another speaker was Diane Sims-Moore, executive director of Families First D.C. “It is clear that young people are getting mixed messages,” she said. “They hear messages in programs or in schools like ‘Be abstinent or use condoms; pick one.’ Quite a choice. We need a different message. We need to talk about: Be abstinent and delay sexual activity as a means to eliminating the risk to getting infections from sexually transmitted disease.”

Kristi Love, who founded STAAND (Students Against AIDS and for the Abolition of National Denial) while a graduate student at Howard University, said, “We come together in hope and belief that abstinence is one of the ways that we can stop HIV and AIDS. If we say that sex is one of the main ways that HIV is transmitted, what can we do to stop it? What can one person do to stop the spread of AIDS?

“One person can say, ‘I will get tested for HIV.’ One parent can tell their children, ‘You are worth the wait.’ One child, one teenager can believe and say, ‘I am worth the wait.’ Another can say and believe, ‘I am abstinence working.’ One young adult can talk with their significant other and say, ‘I am waiting till marriage to have sex.’ One virgin can remain abstinent until marriage. One person who is no longer a virgin, like myself, can choose to become abstinent and say no to sex.

“A person who really loves and likes you has your best interest in mind. I believe that when you have an open and honest discussion about waiting until marriage, they will respect you and your decision to wait.”

A highlight of the program was the youth panel, supporters said.

Nykee Hider shared how he became committed to abstinence when he decided to take God seriously. About 13 years ago, he wrote down the qualities that he desired in his future wife and offered them to God in prayer. He said that on Dec. 6, he was married to the woman of his dreams, who fulfills all of those qualities.

Angela Minto, a Howard University senior, shared how she wants to be an example for young women.

Capria Curtis Walker, a 14-year-old member of the ULTRA Teen choice program and a peer counselor, said, “If you start at a young age and work our way up and be an example for our peers that it will show them the right thing to do by staying abstinent. That’s the only 100 percent way to stay away from AIDS and drugs and alcohol.”

The YOUth Awakening Abstinence Revolution seeks to reach at least 25,000 people who will donate at least $1 by Dec. 19. Ms. Jones invited other houses of worship to hold YOUth Awakening programs. “I believe that I can make the difference,” she said, “that I can make the change … that we can join together” to stem the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS.

• Richard Urban is a co-founder of ULTRA Teen Choice.

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