Wise Women Gathering Place's Community-Based Abstinence Culture Project (C-BAC Project) took place from 2002 to 2007. The program's ultimate goal was to reduce the incidence of premarital sex among teens while promoting a supportive culture of abstinence. The C-BAC Project created a dynamic space where teens could individually and collectively transform their lives into a culture of meaningful, productive behaviors with healthy, positive beliefs and attitudes about human sexuality.
Current mainstream culture bombards teens with the implication that total sexual freedom is a viable and preferable life style. This influence serves to overwhelmingly glamorize images of teenage sexuality and experimentation. This barrage occurs through media promotion, societal preconditioning, marketing, language, and even the clothes we wear. Popular movies and hit music lyrics refer to sexual activity in a casual and demeaning fashion, portraying teens experiencing great joy in sexual activity. Sex is presented as a natural, ensuant part of most teen couple's involvements. Sex is represented as the ultimate adult goal and therefore carries that enticing-yet-forbidden appeal for teens.
The Community-Based Abstinence Culture (C-BAC) Project that was hosted by Wise Women Gathering Place in collaboration with the Oneida Nation Elementary School (ONES) and Menominee Tribal School (MTS) worked to counteract these effects. The eighth grade students involved had the opportunity to explore and discuss issues around abstinence, self-esteem, assertiveness, healthy relationships and healthy choices.
The target populations for the C-BAC Project were eighth-graders at the Menominee and Oneida Tribal Schools. These groups were chosen because this age is a critical juncture in teen development, as teens begin to prepare for high school, and the ensuing new freedoms and pressures. It is a crucial time for them to be aware of the risks of their choices and to be prepared to assert their choices.
C-BAC was intended to provide effective methods for students to use as they went forward into this new setting. If teens are armed with assertiveness skills, risk awareness, self-recognition, discernment skills, and options, they can move into high school and beyond with new confidence and determination. Wise Women Gathering Place believes that self-assured, busy, self-directed young people will be better equipped to remain abstinent, and therefore better able to lend support to a culture of abstinence, and model healthy alternative behaviors for the teens who follow them.
Wise Women Gathering Place collaborated with many aspects of community to support our youth in healthy lifestyle choices. The Department of Health and Human Services DHHS is funded the project at 70% for Year 1 and Year 2, 60% for Year 3, 50% for Year 4, and 40% for Year 5. The first year of funding from DHHS was $225,000. Wise Women Gathering Place wrote grants and sought collaborations for matching funds and inkind contributions for the 30% matching requirement for Year One.
Under direction of artist in residence April Turner, (www.LifeAsArtProductions.com), these students from Oneida and Menominee created an original play "I Made a Choice to Be Strong." From their collaborative writings during 6 weeks of working with April Turner each school created their own 30 minute act to come together as one play. This theater production was a part of their effort to create community awareness and encourage young people making a healthy choice of abstinence.
This effort was supported in part by the Abstinence Education Grant Program from the Department of Health and Human Services, Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Wisconsin Abstinence Initiative for Youth), and also supported in part by the Office of Population Affairs/Office of Adolescent Pregnancy Programs (Adolescent Family Life-Demonstration Grants).