By Andria Barrios

Many consider it sad when they hear about the rising number of teen pregnancies in the world today, but few do something about it. A local program called Impact gives residents this opportunity. A non-profit organization with the purpose of educating and equipping high school students on making healthy choices, Impact has been around for 15 years, and continues to grow.

The classes held by Impact include information on avoiding sexual risks including not only teen pregnancy, but STDs and STIs. Teens learn about setting relationship boundaries, refusal skills and consequences. Summer camps also teach about other high risk behaviors such as drugs, alcohol and tobacco use.

“We have a three prong approach,” explained Executive Director Angie Kagey. “Classroom education, teen impact and even a parent program.”

Primarily volunteer teachers perform up to five day presentations in individual public and private schools, fitting well into curriculums in HOPE (Healthy Opportunities through Physical Education), family and consumer science classes.

It also encourages teen involvement. Clubs are established in schools to reinforce the information learned in classes, and help students associate with other teens making good choices.

Impact hosts summer camps and a summer staff program, where students can apply, audition and train to help out with the classes themselves. By going around to local clubs, YMCAs, recreation centers and church youth centers to teach classes to their peers, students can even earn community service hours.

The third prong educates parents about how to talk to their teens about high risk behavior.

“We do a lot, but it’s a lot of fun too,” said Kagey, who first became involved through Lifecare Network where she served as prevention director for 10 years. “We originated out of local pregnancy centers, so we’re the prevention arm of them.”

“Making healthy choices allows teens to follow through with their goals and dreams, whether college, military or jobs,” said Kagey.

To find out more about teen volunteering or to donate, visit www.whatisimpact.com or contact akagey@whatisimpact.com. For additional information, visit www.facebook.com/whatisimpact/ or call 264-9368.