2018 Back to School!



What a great number! The song by Abba, “Dancing Queen” uses the age of 17 in their song; one that many of us may have actually danced to at a homecoming dance around seventeen.

And now, DCO is celebrating Seventeen! This fall begins our 17th year of serving youth in public and private high schools, middle schools, community organizations and afterschool programs with our sexual risk avoidance education programs. The fact that we have now been privileged to serve over 98,000 youth since the fall of 2002 makes me want to get up and dance! (I KNOW you are now humming the tune to Dancing Queen...)

What is so exciting about the past sixteen years is knowing that DCO makes a difference in the lives of youth, families, communities and ultimately, our future. Recent evaluation by The University of Tennessee – Knoxville on the effectiveness of our multi-year educational curricula revealed that DCO does produce long term behaviors and intentions that lead to optimal health, educational and relational outcomes for our teens. And that is something to get up and dance about!

All of our programs from middle school to college age youth are based on the sexual risk avoidance education (SRA) approach. Why? Because we believe that our youth deserve to have every opportunity to live the future of their dreams; a future that is free from the consequences of risky sexual (and other) activities. The decisions they make during this time of their lives can determine their destiny. Future relationships, physical and emotional health and even economic opportunities can be impacted positively or negatively by their choices. Our primary prevention programs equip our youth with the knowledge and skills to AVOID ALL risks associated with sexual activity, not merely reduce the risk. National evaluation results demonstrate that youth are getting the message. Over half of all teens are choosing to avoid sexual risks through abstinence in 2017. This is HUGE! Why?

“Research shows that teens who wait to have sex increase their chances for a happier marriage, healthier future family, a life of personal responsibility, and productive citizenship. The research also reveals that when teens have sex, besides the risk of pregnancy and STDs, the following negative life outcomes are more likely to occur, often persisting into adulthood:
  • »  Less academic achievement (not necessarily linked to pregnancy)

  • »  Decreased general physical and psychological health, including depression

  • »  More involvement in other risky behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and drugs

  • »  More likely to participate in anti-social behavior or delinquent behavior

  • »  Less likely to exercise self-efficacy and self-regulation

  • »  Less financial net worth and more likely to live in poverty”

    ~ ASCEND, “SRA Education: What You Need to Know”, 2017

As we continue to partner with schools, parents, community organizations and YOU, our faithful donors and prayer partners, DCO will continue to make a positive impact in the lives and futures of our youth! Now, get up out of that chair and dance... you know you want to!

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Joi Wasill, Executive Director & Founder



1. Pray

Everyday your student enters their own personal mission field going to school, and on top of that they are trying to make good grades and have a social life. They need your prayer. The teachers need your prayer.  The administrators and policy makers need your prayer.  Don’t miss this part. It is the most important.

2. Stay Engaged 

In a society where cell phones run the world, one of the greatest things you can do is stay engaged with what is happening around you. Once students start back at school, parents tend to back off. It is a proven fact that teenagers do better academically when they have an engaged mom and dad. That’s you, and we believe you can do it! Ask how their day was, go with them to ball games, sit with them while they do homework. Be present Facebook can wait.

3. Know ALL the Things

Often times parents don’t want to “hover” or “be in their business” but for their safety it is what’s best. How often is your student on their cell phone? What apps are they engaging in? Who are they in constant communication with. Who are they hanging out with at school and on the weekends? You need to know. Teenagers spend a total of 9 hours a day alone on their cellphones. (that’s longer than a typical work day) so knowing what they are doing those 9 hours is vital.

4. Intentional Conversations 

One of the major issues our teens are facing recently is depression. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teenagers and 20% of our current teen population struggle with suicidal thoughts. While there are many signs and symptoms you can be on the look out for, a recent study showed that having a conversation with your student about what’s going on could solve a lot of the other issues. Asking your child about their feelings and the things that are happening at school could be very beneficial and possibly save a life.

5. Rest

The Huffington post wrote an article about the importance of rest, especially for a teen, and what they found is that 8.5 hours of sleep is the only adequate way for your student's brain to rest. Yet, only 15% of our population actually does it correctly. You know, homework, social life, and scrolling Instagram for hours is way more important than the 8.5 hours of sleep they need...wrong. Make sure your student is getting the rest they need to fully succeed and have the best year yet.


Jordan Mather, Communications Director 

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