Young women learn skills to cope with challenges

Six girls completed the Self-Enhancing Techniques course May 22 in Prairie City and made a "SET Program" poster to celebrate: (standing in front) Abigail Barrietua and Katie Stoddard; (middle row, from left) Suzette Banick, Katherine Ridings, Sarah Harig and Tiffany Thompson; (third row) instructor SaraJane Moore (left) and Susan Goin. The Eagle/HEATHER SHEEDY

PRAIRIE CITY- Self-Enhancing Techniques, a 10-week program aimed at helping young women make wise decisions concerning their well-being and future, has taken root in Grant County.

Since 1999, SaraJane Hendrix Moore has been leading the straight-talk class, which she says offers a mixed bag of ages and experiences. A couple of main components of her class are respect and confidentiality. This year's class included six young women ranging from ages 12-17. Topics included learning about how to conduct themselves, communication, choice of friends and boyfriends and standing up to peer pressure to more intimate topics such as dating relationships, domestic violence, sexually transmitted diseases, drug, alcohol and tobacco use and abuse.

Twelve-year-old Tiffany Thompson was the youngest to participate in the program this year. She said although she knew about some of the topics, she now knows more. "I can see how it fits into my life," she said.

Sandy Hartley of Central Oregon Battering and Rape Alliance provided information on domestic abuse and shared the fact that one in three women get abused and most teens that commit murder kill the abuser or their mother.

Thad Labhart, a counselor at the Grant County Center for Human Development, talked about alcohol and drugs, including date rape drugs. Katherine Ridings and the other girls opened their eyes to the reality that even prescription drugs, when used inappropriately, could lead to an overdose.

Sara Harig, 14, said the program will help her decide in the future on a boyfriend. She especially appreciated Labhart's presentation. "It meant a lot to me," she said.

The color test administered by Kathy Cancilla of the Training and Employment Consortium, that identifies a person's personality, was of special interest to Abigail Barrietua. She said she learned a lot about how to deal with people's attitudes and viewpoints. She can now see personality traits in others and even identify herself better.

Katie Stoddard agreed that learning to relate with others is important. She said the discussions will help her to better communicate and to stand up verbally and non-verbally to challenges in every-day life.

Even though 13-year-old Suzette Banick of Condon has taken the course before, she said she learned new things, perhaps reinforced the information she had previously heard. All the girls indicated that they have already shared or plan to share the information they learned with others.

A presentation about AIDS/HIV left a big impression on the girls when they heard that Grant County has 15 reported cases affecting people under the age of 24. Other facts about sexually transmitted diseases also alerted them to the dangers of being sexually active. Karen Triplett from the Grant County Health Department also addressed the attendees with helpful information.

Moore feels this program is very valuable to help the girls in decision-making that affects their lives in very dramatic and personal ways and to connect them to area agencies.

"It is such a positive program," said Susan Goin of the Grant County Juvenile Department, "I just wish more girls would participate."

Moore's goal is to see the program incorporated into school curriculum and adopted as an in-school term class. The program has been held at John Day and Prairie City, but could be held in the outlying areas, according to need.

For more information, call Moore at 575-0728, extension 248.

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