Why is it when it comes to threats to our children’s health—like smoking or drugs—society has no problem promoting the policy to “just say no?” Yet, when dealing with sexual activity, abstinence is treated like a rarity, if not an impossibility.
For example, Planned Parenthood advocates for “comprehensive sex education” in schools that translates into an “anything goes” policy. Their premise is sex is encouraged, while chastity is made out to seem abnormal, even unnatural. It starts young with sexually explicit cartoons explaining reproductive body parts to elementary-aged students. They offer teens access to free birth control without parental knowledge or consent. For college students, they celebrate sex with a “No Pants Party” and other obscene events. Our young people are literally being bombarded by a promiscuous sex-saturated culture. Is there any way for us to effectively counter this assault on morality?
One group that’s up to the task is Healthy Visions in Cincinnati, Ohio. This organization is sending skilled and charismatic presenters into public and parochial schools for a week-long program to tackle some of the toughest issues the students are facing. On our pro-life TV show, Facing Life Head-On, I had the opportunity to meet with the Healthy Visions team. It was hugely impactful to hear the stories of teenagers whose lives were changed because of the experience. I encourage you to see the first-hand accounts by watching this 2013 Emmy ®-nominated special.
What impressed me first was the enthusiasm and engaging personality of their presenter, Russell Proctor, or RP as he likes to be called. This impassioned, red-headed young adult connects with the students and delivers a powerful and surprisingly frank message. The premise isn’t what you may think.
Rather than just focusing on discussing the issues, Healthy Visions focuses on the individual. It meets students where they are and communicates a message of self-worth, self-respect and self-confidence. Using the value of each person as a foundation, it helps the teenagers develop better decision making skills by demonstrating how actions have consequences. It teaches them how to weigh the potential risks of certain behaviors against the alleged benefits. This skill equips students to deal with situations including alcohol, drugs or sex.
Another focus of the program is on relationships—from dating, to friendships, to family. They compare negative behaviors like jealousy, anger and disrespect to positive ones such as trust, security and importance of core values. Strong relationships are critical to the teens’ ongoing support and encouragement. The program also addresses harmful behaviors like substance abuse, eating disorders and even suicidal thoughts. The idea is that students can find forgiveness and healing, and can change their lives for the better.
RP summed up the program like this, “We simply show them that they are loved.”
Is Healthy Visions making a difference? I had the privilege to speak with some of the teenagers who experienced significant life changes as a result of the program. I’d like to share a few of their stories with you.
After Kyle’s father died, he became depressed, violent and even wanted to kill himself. When RP came on the scene, Kyle said he felt like a brother to him. Healthy Visions helped him realize he wasn’t alone and that people do care. Since the program, he’s becoming more optimistic and open to helping others who struggle with depression.
Emily had very low self-esteem and would constantly compare herself to others. She even contemplated suicide. When she heard from RP that she was beautiful, something inside her changed. Just knowing RP believed in her made a difference in her life. Thanks to Healthy Visions, she had the courage to reach out to a friend who had attempted suicide.
Delaney was sexually abused as a child and suffered a great deal. She faced significant self-image issues, and resorted to self-destructive behaviors including bulimia and sexual promiscuity. Healthy Visions gave her hope. RP showed her statistics didn’t matter; she controlled her own future. She now says, “I’m happy to say that I’m a treasure.”
The notion that all kids are having sex simply isn’t true. Planned Parenthood would have kids believe they have no choice—it’s just going to happen anyway. That’s a lie we mustn’t let our children believe. The key to helping our teenagers deal with sexual pressures is to instill a self-worth that they’re more than what the sex-saturated society says. The Healthy Visions motto is “Change Your Story.” And their program is helping to change the story for thousands of teenagers. In fact, they hand out “Change Your Story” bracelets to the students as a reminder that they can make a change for the better in their lives. To request one of these free bracelets, or to find out more about Healthy Visions, visit Facing Life Head-On. I encourage you to reach out to a young person you know and tell them they’re valuable and loved. You might make the difference.