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|NUMBER 156||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||JANUARY 1999|
Los Angeles entertainer and nationally-recognized abstinence advocate Lakita Garth produced the stage show and acted as host. Miss Garth travels to Illinois several times each year under the sponsorship of Project Reality to share her upbeat, no-compromise, abstinence-until-marriage message with area students. A runner-up in the Miss Black America Pageant in 1995, Garth quickly captures and holds the attention of her audiences.
The rally's featured speaker was for-mer Chicago Bears star linebacker Mike Singletary, who was recently inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, and named "1998 Father of the Year" by the National Fatherhood Initiative. Singletary shared his personal story of regret for not having had the benefit of the abstinence message in his youth.
"When I was a teenager growing up in a Houston ghetto in a divorced home, I made some decisions that were not great decisions," he told the crowd. "I was one of the fortunate ones, but if I'd had the opportunity to hear role models like the ones you'll hear today, showing me that, yes, I can do this! - it would have been a tremendous blessing in my life."
NBA star A. C. Green, well known for his outspoken stand in favor of abstinence, also took part in the rally. Pat Socia, author of Weaving Character into Sex Education, and video producer Mike Long (Everyone Is NOT Doing It!) accompanied Chicago Bears players Greg Huntington, Glyn Milburn, Chad Overhauser, Carl Reeves, and Mark Thomas in championing the abstinence message.
At the close of the event, Chicago Public Schools' CEO Paul Vallas gave an interview to the Chicago Tribune in which he revealed that "a new family health curriculum will be introduced systemwide in January to teach abstinence as the number one choice - not one of several equally legitimate options." He further stated: "When I look at our health care curriculum now, abstinence gets a passing glance. We have pregnancy rates of 40% in some of our schools. Our health care curriculum has to be oriented toward preaching that abstinence is the first, best way."
Events such as REALITY CHECK '98 CHICAGO serve as reinforcement for the abstinence- until-marriage instructional programs provided by Project Reality to more than 37,000 Illinois students annually. The rally was funded in part by the Illinois Department of Human Services, which also partially funds the in-school programs. Kathleen Sullivan notes: "Our work is the very best use of your tax dollars."
Additional funding for the rally was provided by donors and corporate sponsors including Bears Care, Glenview State Bank, Hollister Inc., Life Enrichment Foundation, Loyola Medical Center, M&M/Mars Co., MKO/FuGen (A.C. Green's clothing line), United Center, and Walgreen Drug Stores.