Sex is a topic many people don’t want to talk about.
Parents may not feel qualified or comfortable discussing sex with their children. Or they may be concerned their efforts at preventing teen pregnancy will be viewed as approving the behavior.
One local group that wants to help empower teens to enjoy their education, and to discover and achieve life goals before becoming parents, is looking for support.
By helping youth learn to set boundaries and encouraging abstinence, the group puts the impetus on the students themselves to learn about healthy relationships, improve parent-child communication skills, and set personal limits.
Tish Stallings, a prevention specialist with the Cherokee Nation, recently led a discussion about how to define strategies to raise awareness and help the community address the need to prevent teen pregnancies.
“Teen pregnancy is not generally recognized by the community and its leaders as a problem. People seem to have a vague awareness of the efforts toward preventing teen pregnancy,” Stallings said.
Underage drinking, substance abuse and sexually transmitted diseases are problems addressed through the work of groups like the Bringing Everyone’s Strengths Together coalition.
“We need to look at why teen pregnancy is an issue here in Tahlequah,” Stallings said.
Dr. Gregg Woitte, director of obstetrics and gynecology at W.W. Hastings Hospital, believes communities need to work toward breaking the cycle of grandparents raising their grandchildren.
“Just because you had kids when you were a teenager doesn’t mean your kids do,” Woitte said.
He said he’s delivered babies to children as young as 11, but generally they’re age 14 or 15.
One reason teens give for engaging in sex is lack of extracurricular activities, said Barbara Williams.
“Isn’t it really about parent involvement with their kids?” Woitte asked. “Doing things with their kids, being involved in their band or sports activities.”
While he was growing up near Chicago, there was no shortage of activities, Woitte said.
“We certainly need a more coordinated effort with recreation and a parks center here,” he said.
Terrill White grew up in Tahlequah, but he has worked in communities with a lot to do, yet the kids still say there’s nothing to do. As project coordinator for the “Draw the Line, Respect the Line” program, White is very aware of the need for teen pregnancy prevention efforts and education in the community.
“It seems that being a pregnant teenager is becoming more and more accepted,” said White. “I graduated from high school [in Tahlequah] in 1996 and I only remember one girl being pregnant.”
Woitte gets more requests for homebound students who are pregnant so they don’t have to go to school.
“And maybe teens attending the Alternative School is a success story, since they’re staying in school and not dropping out,” Woitte said.
Communication between parents and teens can be even more challenging today.
Kids are savvy and have access to so much information, said Melissa Pitts-Johnson, supervisor for the Cherokee Nation behavioral prevention programs.
“There is a technology and knowledge gap between parents and kids; adults are struggling to keep up,” Pitts-Johnson said.
Sex is a topic many people don’t want to talk about.
Conference attendees get words of encouragement
Words of encouragement and door prizes were bountiful Saturday morning at the annual Zoë Institute’s Women’s Conference.
Ten women shared words of wisdom in areas from happiness to health, and 100 gifts were given out, including the grand prize of gasoline for a year.
Panelists discuss impact of Southeastern art
Until recently, most people had a certain expectation of American Indian art – and it didn’t include images familiar to people in and around Cherokee County.
“A lot of times, when people think about Native art, they immediately think of Plains art or Southwestern art,” said Roy Boney (Cherokee), Tahlequah artist and moderator of the panel discussion “Southeastern Indian Art: Building Community and Raising Awareness,” held Friday, April 11, at the NSU Symposium on the American Indian.
Boney and the other panelists are frustrated by the divide between mainstream expectations of Native American art and their need for genuine self-expression.
Dickerson believes in putting the student first
As a child growing up in Elk City, Cherokee Elementary teacher Debra Dickerson lined up the neighborhood children and animals to play school.
“I’ve been a teacher ever since I could talk. My mother always said she knew where I was because she could hear me bossing everyone,” she said.
The classroom then was a blanket tossed over limbs of her big cherry tree on Eisenhower Street. Recess was spent tree-climbing, running, riding in the bus (her red wagon) and being creative.
“Those were the days before video games and TV,” she said.
Dickerson, 2013-’14 Cherokee Elementary Teacher of the Year, believes a classroom should be a safe haven for children, because school is often the best part of their day.
Cleaning things up
Lowrey was part of the Cherokee Nation’s Career Service Center contingency of 11 volunteers. Other volunteers cleaned up trash along the roadway from the Cherokee Casino to the NSU campus.
Right to privacy leans partly on Article 9
While the other articles of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights are straightforward – at least, enough for Americans to bicker over in court – the Ninth Amendment might cause a bit of confusion.
It reads: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
There are no rights enumerated, and it might be difficult to argue one’s Ninth Amendment rights in court, though it has been done successfully.
The American Indian Science and Engineering Society and Native American Student Associationat Northeastern State University hosted a traditional stickball game as part of closing cultural activities during the 42nd annual Symposium on the American Indian Friday. Participants included, from left: Nathan Wolf, Disosdi Elk and Chris Smith.
City council to discuss ‘green building’
Tahlequah City Council will hold a special meeting Friday, April 11, at 5:30 p.m. to discuss, among other items, applying grant money to renovate the city’s “green building” at the corner of Water and Morgan, near Norris Park.
Alcohol screening can be critical
It has been decades since Prohibition brought Americans gangsters, flappers and speakeasies, but statistics for alcohol addiction are staggering.
Millions of Americans suffer from alcohol addiction and abuse, which affects families and friends.
Today, April 10, is the annual National Alcohol Screening Day, and raising awareness through education, outreach and screening programs is the goal, according to the website at www.mentalhealthscreening.org.
Law enforcement agencies to get new facility
Area law enforcement agencies will soon have a new training facility in Cherokee County.
The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office is building the new training room near its gun range, located north of the detention center. Sheriff Norman Fisher said tax dollars were not used for the building.
“This is something we’ve been trying to work on, and it was built with no money from the taxpayers,” said Fisher. “It was paid for with drug forfeitures and gun sales.”
Promise Hotels to build Holiday Inn Express prototype
Tulsa-based company Promise Hotels broke ground recently on the nation’s first new Holiday Inn Express & Suites prototype. The new 46,000 square foot, 80-room hotel will be in Tahlequah near the intersection of South Muskogee Avenue and the highway loop.
Construction will begin immediately with an anticipated completion date of February 2015. The $7.22 million hotel will feature a new contemporary look with an indoor pool, sauna, fitness center, and larger meeting room.
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