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.
Tahlequah Public Schools Foundation awards $30K
Tahlequah Public Schools Foundation recently awarded more than $30,000 to TPS teachers for education projects.
Tibbets: Art an important cultural element
The incomparable beauty of nature inspires Dennis Tibbits to paint.
“I believe my love of the Illinois River, especially the Barren Fork, has greatly influenced the type of material I prefer doing,” said Tibbits.
His love of landscapes – “riverscapes,” as he calls them – began about the same time he started floating the river in the 1970s as a student at Northeastern State University.
Tibbits, an instructor and clinical supervisor of Speech and Language Pathology at NSU, graduated from Stilwell High School in 1971. He earned a bachelor’s degree from NSU in 1975 and a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas in 1976, both in speech-language pathology. He came full-circle when he took a teaching job at NSU in 2007, after doing clinical speech pathology for more than 30 years.
In the early ‘70s, he did his first oil paintings and three of them hang in his house today.
Senior Citizens dance makes mark in history
It was nearly 14 years ago when Charles Scott and Dorothy Crawford were sitting across the table from each other having lunch at the Tahlequah Senior Citizens Center, when Charles spoke up and said, “I think I’ll go see the mayor and city council and get a senior citizens dance started.”
Bright colors in for spring fashion
The occasional snowflake may still be floating down from the sky, but bright colors and textures are making local boutiques and stores look like spring has already arrived.
Bright colors, loose-weave accessories in scarves, jackets and vests and dresses are beginning to replace winter items in display windows and on the racks.
Neon and leopard prints are always on hand at Obsession Boutique, said owner Amanda Harris.
Floral and tribal prints, corals, melon and mint green and sequins for bling are beginning to brighten the store on cute sundresses, skinny jeans, leggings, and jeggings, said Harris.
- Polar Plunge raises thousands for Special Olympics More than 110 participants from local schools and organizations took part in Saturday’s Polar Plunge for the Special Olympics at Arrowhead Resort on the Illinois River. They raised a total of $15,400 for the athletes to buy uniforms and help with travel and lodging for the Oklahoma Special Olympics in May. Participating were groups from Cherokee Nation, Northeastern State University, Tahlequah Police Department, Tahlequah Public Schools, and others.
Ross shares gospel in variety of settings
Pastor Sean Ross uses a variety of classes to teach the word of God to his congregation, whether at church, a nursing home or elsewhere.
“Our church is small and precious. We enjoy singing the old hymns, as well as new praise. We are looking to grow in the Lord and in his favor,” Ross said.
Light Workers heal human energy
Light Workers are healers, but not in the traditional medical sense. They heal human energy.
Tinsley’s family an inspiration for teaching
Lessons from life on the farm are teaching tools for Greenwood’s newest Teacher of the Year.
Second-grade teacher Kym Tinsley’s family is important. In the summer, she works on Canyon Ridge Farm, owned by her parents.
“I use the experiences from the farm life in my classroom on a daily basis, through writing, reading, and math,” she said.
She has a happy, colorful and friendly classroom. She recently greeted two children at the classroom door with a smile. As she interacted with them, asking questions about a story, they searched for clues and find answers.
Tinsley rewarded each girl with a compliment, based on their answers and asked more questions. The girls searched for answers once more.
For Tinsley, children are definitely the best part of teaching,
Grass fire erupts near Welling
Members of the Tahlequah and Welling fire departments knocked down a grass fire on Saturday, Feb. 15 on Bright Star Drive. The blaze threatened buildings and blackened several acres before firefighters were able to contain it.
Works o' art
Elizabeth Price views a display of clay pots at the Spider Gallery during the Tahlequah Public Schools Foundation ”Uncorked” Wine & Cheese Tasting Fundraiser Thursday, Feb. 13.
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