By Bonnie Mentel

“IMPACT originated from the local crisis pregnancy centers in the area and partners with the LifeCare Network. IMPACT was really developed to help prevent students from being in a situation where they might experience an unplanned pregnancy,” said Angie Kagey, executive director of IMPACT.

IMPACT promotes healthy living and relationships through its Teen IMPACT program, which gets students to commit to being drug-free, alcohol-free, and tobacco-free, while practicing abstinence.

In order to meet their goal of educating teenagers, IMPACT has programs in local schools. Its “Classroom Education” program sends trained speakers into the schools to educate teens on the importance of sexual risk avoidance, while also teaching them refusal skills, and encouraging students to set boundaries in their dating relationships. Lecturers discuss the benefits of abstinence.

IMPACT partners with teachers through the HOPE program (Healthy Opportunities through Physical Education) and through Family & Consumer Science classes. They also start clubs where teens can find peer support.

“Our curriculum complements their curriculum. They bring us in as guest speakers to hit on a particular topic. The students get to hear a different voice than their regular teacher. They get an outside resource to help reinforce what they are learning in the classroom. It’s been a wonderful partnership with the schools,” said Kagey.

IMPACT has a partnership with the Hillsborough County School district and has a presence in almost all the main high schools in Hillsborough County. IMPACT has been servicing the county for over 15 years and they are able to reach about 10,000 students each year, teaching them how to avoid high-risk behaviors.

Sometimes students face an unplanned pregnancy. When that happens, IMPACT is there to help.

“For example, if a teacher would contact me and say that they have a student who is in a crisis situation, they say that they might be pregnant, then I refer that teacher to the local crisis pregnancy center for the student to have the additional support that they need. We are that resource for the teachers. They know who to contact if they are dealing with that situation,” Kagey said.

“Students commit to being drug-free, alcohol-free, tobacco-free, and abstinent. They become role-models. Not only do they pour back into the community with their peers, but they are changed as a result of being in the program. It’s a really strong youth development program,” Kagey said.

IMPACT has a three-prong approach. Besides the classroom education and teen IMPACT, they also have a parent piece. Through “Parent Power,” parents learn how to have conversations with their teens about how to avoid high risk behavior. The program provides additional support to help parents feel more qualified to talk to their teens.

IMPACT’s annual dinner and main fundraiser is Thursday, September 17 at The Regent, located at 6437 Watson Rd. in Riverview. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. and dinner starts at 6:45 p.m. There is no cost to attend the event and reservations can be made at www.whatisimpact.com. There are also opportunities to host or sponsor a table. For further questions, the office can be reached at 264-9368.