February 3, 2010
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Quick! What’s the first word that pops into your head when you think of Sex Ed? Come on, think, think! You’re probably struggling here so let me help. Let’s see…you’re thinking of pre-pubescent teens, goofy boys who laugh every time someone says the word for a man’s genitals. Or maybe you’re thinking of the sex education teacher whose philosophy is “if you have sex, you’ll get Chlamydia and die!” Okay, my turn. Three letters come to my mind. P.S.I. Those letters probably don’t mean anything to you, but they mean the world to me.

More specifically, the letters P.S. I. mean postponing sexual involvement. Each year teens from Cincinnati Public high schools teach preteens or young teens how to cope with the pressures of today – peer pressure, social pressure and internal pressure to become sexually active before marriage. The summer prior, teen leaders become skilled in creating positive peer pressure for teens their age and younger. We represent teenagers who contribute to the common good in our community. As biased as this sounds, I believe what we teen leaders do is extra ordinary. How many teens are able to stand in front of a class of about twenty preteens and maturely talk with them about sex? I’ll give you some time to think.

Each week is a different session which focuses on a specific topic. Teen leaders teach six 45-minute lessons from one of the PSI Leaders' guides Postponing Sexual Involvement, or Managing Pressures Before Marriage. We run the class, conduct activities, lead discussions and role plays, show video segments, assign homework and interactive activities with students' guardians. The first week is the pre-session. The purpose of this session is for the students to learn something about each other. The teen leaders want their students to become comfortable with them. This is why we begin with an introduction. We introduce ourselves and elaborate on why we joined P.S.I.

Next is session I: “The Risk of Early Sexual Involvement.” Teens explore reasons why teens become sexually involved and need to help them develop alternative ways of meeting their personal needs. Session II is the STD session. We want teens to understand how common sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV) are amongst kids their age and how they can protect themselves. Thirdly is “Social Pressures”. Teens social influences they are faced with daily. These influences stimulate curiosity about sex but fail to show the responsibilities and consequences of having sex.

Session IV: “Peer Pressure”. The intent of this lesson is to increase teens’ awareness and understanding of pressures from their peers. From 1993 to 2007, the number of births to young female teens in Cincinnati has declined by 51%.”

Many people will graduate high school leaving behind football records, cheerleading championships, and 4.0 grade point averages. Seniors all across the nation can say they’ve accomplished this but few can say that they’ve forever changed the life of over 300 inner city youth. I’ve been apart of numerous activities throughout high school but none can measure up to P.S.I. I’ve forged a lifetime bond with my adult leaders. I will for ever remember the fellow teen leaders that I’ve come to know.

The greatest feeling is when one of my old students notices me at the grocery store, the movie theater, and mall. They walk up with an ear to ear smile and ask me if I remember them. For the most part I usually do. Those moments always make my day. Those moments exemplify the legacy that PS.I. will leave behind this December. Yes, I am sad that the program is ending due to finances. In fact I’ve cried numerous times. Then again, I think about how P.S.I has changed the lives of thousands of teens over a span of 20 years and those tears fade away. Why should I feel sad?

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