Shannon Community Health Services is one of three programs in Texas to receive an abstinence education planning grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services, announced Tommy Thompson, HHS secretary. Shannon is included in more than $17.1 million in federal grants to 49 communities nationwide to develop and implement abstinence-only education programs for young people age 12-18, Thompson said. “Shannon’s $75,000 grant will be used to develop the current Right Choices for Youth program in rural counties adjacent to Tom Green County, plus Brown County,” said Karen Aylor Wells, RN, BSN, director of Shannon’s Community Health Services. “Right Choices for Youth is a cooperative program of Shannon Health and the San Angelo Independent School District to bring education to local youth about abstinence, not only from pre-marital sex, but also from alcohol and drug use, violence and other risky lifestyle choices,” Wells said. Stephanie Detamore, RN, is the program’s coordinator. “In preventing so many of today’s sexual health problems, it is clear that choosing abstinence is the surest protection against disease and unintended pregnancy,” secretary Thompson said. “These grants will help create an environment that supports teenagers who choose to postpone sexual activity.” Counties targeted for development include Brown, Coke, Coleman, Concho, Crockett, Edwards, Irion, Kimble, Mason, McCulloch, Menard, Runnels, San Saba, Schleicher, Sterling, Sutton, Tom Green and Val Verde. According to the Center for Disease Control, in 1999, almost 50 percent of high school students had sexual intercourse, putting them at risk for teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Locally, in 1999, 134 teenage pregnancies were reported with 114 live births to mothers 13-17 years of age, according to the Texas Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics.