Aim gets grant

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 7, 2002

Messenger Intern

A local program aimed at educating youth just extended its life span by three more years.

Troy Hospital Corporation

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Inc. recently received a grant worth $533,925 to fund the Abstinence In Motion program, which has been co-sponsored by

Edge Regional Medical Center, the Charles Henderson Child Health Center, Alabama Department of Public Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The grant will officially be announced locally on July 18 in a press conference.

"I screamed when we got it," said Terry Watkins, director of AIM. "They called me when they got the letter and said, ‘Terry, you need to come down to the hospital. We’ve got something you need to see.’ And I said, ‘Just read me the first line.’"

That first line was the $533,925 sentence Watkins had been waiting six months to read.

AIM has been previously funded by Title V, but that grant only lasts for five years and AIM was reaching the end of its term. Watkins also plans to reapply for the Title V grant too.

The new money will allow the program to further develop and expand, she said.

The AIM program, which presently targets grades 7 and 9 in five counties, will be able to now include grades 8 and 10 and an after-school program will also be started at the Troy Housing Authority.

Four additional staff members will be hired and a marketing and media component will also be added through Hive Creative Group and WTVY Channel 4 in Dothan.

"They liked how we corroborated with other agencies, like Troy State and the [school systems]. The schools also have a vested interest in this program, because, when young people get pregnant, they are more likely to drop out of school. We want to see them reach their goals," Watkins said.

"Our mission is to see kids graduate with a diploma in their hand instead of a baby," she said.

The money was available through Maternal Child Health Bureau, which is under the Department of Health and Human Resources.

"Abstinence-only education programs create an environment within communities that supports teens in their decision to remain abstinent until marriage," said HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson.

"This grant to the Troy Hospital Corporation will help develop programs in the Troy area that give young people the confidence and self-esteem to make strong choices for themselves and for their futures," Thompson said in a release.

This is a three-year implementation grant called Special Projects of Regional and National Significance (SPRANS) Community Based Abstinence Education Project Grant. Forty implementation grants, totaling more than $18 million have been awarded to public and private entities such as community-based and faith-based organizations, hospitals, health centers, school systems and other youth services agencies.

Watkins applied for the grant in January by filling out a hundred-page application that took four weeks to complete.

"Any time you apply for a federal grant, there is always a huge application that you have to specifically address, and they only give grants to reputable organizations," she said.

Watkins applied for the grant through ERMC and Charles Henderson Child Health Care Center.

Abstinence-only education interventions are designed to reduce the number of adolescents who have engaged in premarital sexual activity and, consequently, the number of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.