by Jennifer Minor, Editor/Writer
In seventh and eighth grade at my Catholic school in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, I went through a program with my class called Operation Keepsake. When I started working at Heartbeat and interacting with the leaders of classes and programs in schools and out, somehow I didn’t make the connection. Then, I attended a presentation by Mary Anne Mosack where she shared about her journey with Ascend and Sexual Risk Avoidance Education (SRAE). It was only then that all the pieces fit together at last.
You see, Operation Keepsake was a step on the journey for Mary Anne doing her work spreading SRAE in schools. And here’s the thing, that class affected me in ways I didn’t realize at the time.
Fifteen years after my SRAE experience, I’m about to get married. I’m constantly overwhelmed with excitement (and sometimes stress), and I know that part of it is that my fiancé and I have done things in order.
We’re following the success sequence that SRAE teaches. We both got our educations, we have full time jobs, we’re getting married, and then we’ll think about kids, and we both made the choice to have one partner for life. Not only does this fit both of our Christian values and match up with God’s plan for our sexuality, it has demonstrable, research-backed benefits for society. Following all three behaviors in the simple success sequence (graduate, work full-time, marry before having children) leaves a millennial with only a 3% chance of living in poverty as an adult. The statistics are pretty clear, and you can see all of the data that Ascend has gathered here.
Now, I’ll admit, I didn’t walk out of Operation Keepsake with the success sequence in my brain. I walked out with much more information about STD/STIs than I wanted to know. I was hyper-aware that crossing certain lines would make it difficult to back up. It was the nature of my teenage brain, I suppose, but the success sequence stuck anyway (in part certainly due to my own family’s values).
While I didn’t have much of a dating life in middle school or high school, the dating I did in my twenties did make me think back to Operation Keepsake. I remembered that love is not sex. I remembered that there was a holy and healthy way to approach my sexuality, and while I had certainly learned more since those classes when I was about fourteen, SRAE was a part of my foundation.
That’s why I am grateful that Heartbeat International makes sure there’s opportunities for pregnancy help organizations to dive into Sexual Risk Avoidance Education at the Heartbeat International Annual Conference. My experience with SRAE was certainly supported by family and friends that stood by its teachings, but as I continue to prepare for marriage and my future, I’m so glad that more students will have the experience I did and gain the tools to make healthy and holy decisions for their lives as well.
I’m an SRAE success story, and I fully hope that more and more will be able to say the same.
Mary Anne Mosack, president/CEO of Ascend, will be presenting an In-Depth Training on Sexual Risk Avoidance at the 2020 Heartbeat International Annual Conference. You can click here to find out more or to register for this training opportunity. Additional resources from Ascend can be found at weascend.org.