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AIM program needs community partners

The 60 percent who are “moveables.” That’s who one speaker said abstinence and teen education programs, such as the AIM (Abstinence in Motion) program based here in Troy are targeting.

That 60 percent, according to this expert, are the students who can be influenced, for better or worse, by their peers; by society; and by programs such as those offered through AIM. Her information, shared during a stakeholders meeting on Thursday, was clear and concise: research shows 20 percent of teens are going to be sexually active, no matter what; another 20 percent will not be sexually active, period.

The largest group, those in the middle, are those most at risk.

And, as participants in the two-hour long session learned Thursday, those who stand to benefit most from programs such as those offered by AIM. Since 1997, AIM has sought to reach the teens in Pike County and, recently, throughout southeast Alabama through classroom programs, peer mentoring and honest, fact-based conversations geared toward helping teens in grades six through 12 make healthy choices about risky behaviors, from sex to drugs to alcohol. The program has been funded, in large part, by a series of federal grants. The most recent, a CBAE grant, has ended, leaving the program without funding until new grants can be secured.

Hence the purpose of the stakeholders meeting.

The AIM directors and staff are working to secure new grants and funding to keep the program alive. They are being picky, seeking grants that teach abstinence, not sex education, and funding that follows the ideals of the mission that has proven successful for more than a dozen years.

Meanwhile, they are seeking help – ideas, partnership, support, in-kind services, even office space, if needed – from the community to keep the program functioning in the interim.

It’s a call for help, and one that should be heeded.

For 13 years, the AIM program has been working tirelessly, passionately to reach those “60 percent” who are most at-risk to be influenced and swayed by the increasingly negative influences of our society and, sadly, sometimes their peers.

If you can help, please do so.

Our teens, our future, deserve no less.