Our Day at the Capitol

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Last Wednesday afternoon, three Make Up Your Own Mind students from UNCG, two Care Center staff, and two Make Up Your Own Mind alumni left from Greensboro to go to Washington, D.C., for Ascend’s annual Day on the Hill. We went to make an appeal to our Congressional representatives regarding their support of sexual risk avoidance (SRA) education.

What is Day on the Hill?

Ascend, formerly known as the National Abstinence Education Association, coordinates meetings for SRA educators with their Congressional representatives regarding the need for their support of SRA education every year. This year, our day began with a briefing by Ascend leaders on how to navigate the day. Then, our group met with two House Representatives. We came back for a lunch meeting where congressional staffers were present to learn more about how SRA education can impact poverty prevention. And afterward, we met with our Senate Representatives. We ended the day by debriefing Ascend staff members on our meetings and by hearing stories from other Day on the Hill attendees.

Why Is Day on the Hill Important?

I’ve had many people ask me why I think it is important for us to attend this event. One reason is that I agree with our Assistant Executive Director, Carter Mundy, when he says there are two ways to influence our culture. First, we can affect change from the bottom-up. This is what we are doing everyday with our students and clients at the Care Center, transforming the culture one person at a time. The second way to affect change is from the top-down, which would be from people with influence. A prime example is our governmental representatives.

Another reason I believe it is important we participate in this event is that I wholeheartedly think SRA education empowers students to fight the negative effects of normalizing sex (which is inarguably what is happening now in our culture). It teaches them, first, what is actually healthy; and second, to make healthy decisions based on what they know is true about reality.

What is SRA Education?

Sexual risk avoidance education is exactly what it sounds like. It is a teaching method to help students avoid all the risks that come from sexual activity, rather than just reduce risks of sexual activity. It teaches that students have value and they ought to make sexual choices based on the reality that there are no risks involved with sex in a life-long, monogamous, committed relationship with an uninfected partner. Please visit http://www.abstinenceassociation.org for more information on SRA education.

Our Experience

This is our second year attending Ascend’s Day on the Hill. We were more seasoned in the concept that being in D.C. requires a lot of walking! We maneuvered the Metro with grace, and we spoke with our representatives in a way that left us all feeling proud when we walked away. Also, I want to thank our House Representative, Mark Walker, for personally meeting with us and for being so encouraging. Most people wouldn’t have taken the time to see us face-to-face, but he did!

Valerie Huber, President/CEO of Ascend told us, “You being here, you put a real human face to what gets mixed up with politics and agendas.” This is just one of many similar statements we heard during our time in D.C. We do the “groundwork;” we spend time with students and our peers giving them information that could lead them to make healthy decisions later on in life. We represent the reality of what is happening in our communities.

Joseph, one of the students that went with us for the first time had this to say:

“Learning about SRA education and how it is important has really opened my eyes to the failure of our current education being taught in classrooms. I realized that SRA education has so much to impact kids with—and not just in their sexual lives. If we want to change our culture for the better, then SRA helps us get there.”

I’ll leave you with the words of Landis Brown, President of Make Up Your Own Mind at UNCG:

The trip to D.C. was an absolutely incredible experience. It’s one thing to learn about our government, another to cast a vote in an election, and something entirely different to walk down marble hallways to meetings with our representatives. We were able to put faces with names, create connections, and voice our support for SRA education. More than that, we were able to show our Congress and Senate that students matter. Their lives are important. How well they value themselves is crucial, not only to empower and equip them for healthy choices now, but for the future, as well. We have been blessed with a government that allows us to speak up for our beliefs and our group got to stand on the side of Truth. It was definitely something I’ll always keep with me.”

 

Kristin Miller is the Outreach Coordinator at Greensboro Pregnancy Care Center. Her passion for the mission of the Care Center was ignited during her senior internship working with our outreach programs. She graduated from UNC Greensboro in December 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies.

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