KEYSER, W.Va. — Project AIM, a program that redirects youth away from risky sexual behaviors and toward positive life goals, will be offered to seventh- and eighth-graders at Keyser Primary Middle School in mid-January, according to Sharon Cihlar, director of the YTeens program at the Cumberland YMCA.
The program stands for Adult Identity Mentoring and is proven to be effective in reducing sexual risks in middle school youth by reducing sexual intentions, delaying the initiation of sex and increasing sexual abstinence, officials said. It was approved during the recent public meeting of the Mineral County Board of Education.
“I’m ecstatic to provide this evidenced-based program that has been proven to have a positive outcome to our neighbors. I am pleased as I can be to provide the program to students in Mineral County,” said Cihlar.
The program is in its third year in Allegany County schools.
In Mineral County, the program will be offered in health classes twice a week, and once the 12 lessons are completed, students will receive a portfolio of their work, a letter of recommendation, business cards and a celebration will be held, according to Cihlar.
“Just like in Allegany County schools, the program has proven to reduce risky behavior, help students make better decisions, reduce the time spent on in-school suspension and improves the students’ motivation to do well in all areas of their lives,” said Cihlar.
The program is delivered by facilitators who guide students to decide for themselves what type of positive future they would like to have, according to Cihlar.
“We have been in Allegany County schools for the past two years and have heard nothing but praises from the administrators, principals, teachers, students and even parents,” said Cihlar. “Parents often tell me what a difference the program makes in their conversations with their children about their school day. Students are crazy about the program because it focuses on them and their dreams. They feel empowered to go after their dreams, which is the purpose of the program.”
The program is offered at no cost to the school or the students and is funded through a $451,340 Teen Pregnancy Prevention grant from the Office of Adolescent Health with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to Cihlar.
Cihlar indicated that Frankfort Middle School is considering using the YTeens program, which is also offered after school at the YMCA’s Riverside Recreation Center in Cumberland.
Contact Elaine Blaisdell at firstname.lastname@example.org.