Teens have choices

January 15, 2008|By TERESA GILBERT / Pulse Correspondent

Only one-third of teen mothers receive high school diplomas. Less than 2 percent of teen mothers earn a college degree by the age of 30. Almost 80 percent of unmarried teen mothers find themselves relying on welfare.

These statistics can be found at and are only some of the many statistics that worry Carrol Lourie and Katie Williams.

Lourie is the director of the Washington County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition; Williams, 21, is a resident of Hagerstown is student of Strayer University and a volunteer with the coalition's teen advisory council.

Lourie and Williams met with the Pulse team recently to talk about their latest method for spreading awareness and knowledge about sexuality and the possible consequences, such as pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).


Lourie said the coalition's basic message is that teens can choose whether or not to be sexually active. To that end, they developed a a "Jeopardy!"-style game about sex. It's called "Teens Have Choices Jeopardy."

"We wanted this to be fun rather than a lecture," Lourie said.

The game's categories are cleverly named:

· Forever Yours, about incurable STIs

· Trojan Wars, about condoms

· Whoopsy-daisies, about curable STIs

· Fact or Fiction, about basic facts about sex

· Best Laid Plans, about contraceptives

· Little Black Book, about resources and places to contact concerning a teen pregnancy and sexual health. The title comes from a local teen resource book called "Little Black Book." It's available at the Washington County Health Department.

Lourie and Williams led Pulse team members in a round of the game. In "Jeopardy!" style, Lourie gave answers and the Pulse journalists came up with questions. From Trojan Wars, Lourie read, "You can get free condoms at this location." Answer: "What is the the Washington County Health Department?"

From the Best Laid Plans category, Lourie read, "This is the only 100 percent successful method of contraception." Answer: "What is abstinence?"

Pulse writers had a good time competing to be first to answer the questions. Fun is part of the point, Williams said.

"We wanted to come up with a way to get information to kids who weren't getting it at school, or were too young to (get it at school)," she said.

"We really wanted to help kids get the simple facts that they are obviously not getting," Lourie added.

The coalition has invested in a computer program to run the game through a projector to make it more high-tech and appealing to teens. Lourie said the coalition is considering hosting the game in a public place such as Valley Mall's community room and offering pizza and prizes to those who participate.

They are also searching for youth-oriented groups that would like to invite the coalition to bring their "Jeopardy" game as a way to reach more kids.

To contact the Coalition or Carrol Lourie, anyone interested may reach them at 301-671-3000.

Resources for sexual health information

Washington County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition director Carrol Lourie wants teens to know they can have confidential health care at the health department. Teens should know which contraceptive techniques are ineffective and which are better. They should learn the symptoms of sexually transmitted infections and know where to turn for information or advice in case a pregnancy occurs.

Lourie tries to teach teens to recognize choices that might cut short their options in life. Lourie said she is planning to continue developing the "Teens Have Choices Jeopardy" game (see main story).

"We want to add some values questions," she said. "What do we really value in life - those things impact our behavior.

"It's not just the pregnancy or the STIs we're worried about. It's your overall well-being we're worried about. It's about allowing (yourself) to grow into a full person."

The coalition wants teenage girls - who are affected more by a pregnancy than boys - to value their education and to make choices in their best interest.

There are many local sources of information about sex and its consequences

· Contact the Washington County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition at 301-671-3000 visit the coalition Web site at

· Call the Community Free Clinic at 301-733-9234.

· Call the Washington County Health Department at 240-313-3296.

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