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Education Reporter

Reprise of Abstinence
Rally a Rousing Success!

CHICAGO, IL - The abstinence education organization Project Reality made a classy, splashy statement for sexual abstinence in April, hosting REALITY CHECK 2000. Held in Rockford, Illinois on April 10 and at the University of Illinois' Chicago Pavilion on April 11, the event was the second such celebration of abstinence from sex, drugs and alcohol. Nearly 10,000 teens from more than 85 (mostly public) schools attended the Chicago rally, up from 8,000 students and 67 schools at the first event in November 1998, while the Rockford rally drew 3,000 cheering students.

Lakita Garth
Lakita Garth
Los Angeles entertainer and nationally-recognized abstinence advocate Lakita Garth, who hosted REALITY CHECK '98, made a repeat appearance. A runner-up in the Miss Black America Pageant in 1995, Miss Garth and other celebrity performers wove their abstinence message into dramatic sketches and professional song and dance performances. "Abstinence is a lifestyle of mastering the art of self-control, self-discipline and the delay of self-gratification," she explained. "The abstinence message is not just shaking our fingers at the students and telling them to say no. We give them practical tools in an educational and entertaining manner that can save their lives."

Glyn Milburn
Glyn Milburn
All-pro NFL kick returner Glyn Milburn of the Chicago Bears, a veteran of the 1998 rally, shared with the youthful audience his commitment to abstinence until marriage. "Don't trade what you want most for what you want for the moment," Milburn said.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, an enthusiastic supporter of the first event, attended this year's rally as well, offering his full support to Project Reality's effort to reduce sexual activity and substance abuse among teens. "Mr. Vallas was so excited about this program that he suggested we hold a Reality Check 2000 in each of Chicago's six regional districts as soon as possible," said Project Reality Director Kathleen Sullivan.

Attendees from across the country are hoping to replicate the event in their home states. Darrell Green of the Washington Redskins, for example, is seriously considering hosting a rally in Washington, DC next fall.

The fact that 10,000 local schoolchildren and a variety of popular celebrities and sports figures gathered to champion the cause of abstinence did not merit the attention of Chicago's major media. They chose instead to cover a ceremony naming a street in honor of Playboy Enterprises founder Hugh Hefner. "Many thousands of teens cheering for abstinence is a clear message that Mr. Hefner's lifestyle in no way appeals to the next gen-eration," notes Mrs. Sullivan. "They've seen the results of the Playboy mentality and are starting a new sexual revolution - one that promotes responsibility, respect and commitment."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sexually transmitted diseases account for 87% of the most frequently reported infections in the U.S. This alarming statistic has led many to urge sexual abstinence as the only guaranteed way to avoid transmission of STDs, but CDC funds continue to support sex education programs that fail to emphasize abstinence until marriage (see Education Reporter, May 2000).

Project Reality is a national leader in the field of adolescent health, providing abstinence instruction programs to over 50,000 Illinois students annually.

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