TIFTON -- A woman who got pregnant when she was 15 will tell what it was like to be a mother that young at the Tift Teen Health Clinic's Teen Pregnancy Awareness Day and open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 14, during Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month.

Although teen pregnancy rates have declined, Tift County still ranks high among Georgia counties in terms of the number of teenage girls who get pregnant.

The clinic also provides education on sexually transmitted diseases.

"We would like the community to know who we are, what we are doing and where we are located," said Galen C. Baxter, the Tift Teen Health Clinic's public health educator.

Baxter said various Tift County government and nonprofit agencies and private vendors interested in the teen pregnancy issue will participate in an awareness fair during the open house. Phil Good Entertainment will provide music from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission is free.

The Tift Teen Health Center is located in the Tift County Health Department at 1205 N. Tift Ave.

Baxter said one of the spare rooms is being renovated into a teen lounge where educational videos and interactive CD-ROM games and educational board games will be available for teens to use.

"We will have three computers with Internet access open for anyone to come in and use for research or homework during the clinic hours," Baxter said.

Baxter said the teen clinic won't change.

Although the clinic wants every young person to be aware that abstinence is the only sure method to prevent unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, local health statistics reveal that remaining abstinent is not a choice that all teens are making. Lack of proper information puts youth at even more risk for negative health outcomes.

The addition of the teen lounge will allow health workers to incorporate more educational classes on pregnancy and disease prevention into their focus on family planning and abstinence.

"We will offer classes on communication skills, assertiveness training and decision-making," Baxter said.

Some of the classes are more male-specific than ever before and include education on dating violence prevention and conflict resolution.

Parents of teenagers can also take advantage of parent education classes.

"These classes will focus primarily on improving communication between teens ad their parents," Baxter said.

The "Talking to Your Teen About Sexual Responsibility" classes are from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 12, at the Betty Jo Roach Building, the United Way Building on North Ridge Avenue across from the Board of Education.

To contact city editor Angie Thompson, call 382-4321.

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