Speech for Dedication of CHART Mural

Hannibal, Missouri, June 25, 2000
"While searching for a way to show our area youth that they are valued and that their dreams are important for all our futures, I came up with an illustration and a poem that represented my idea. I proposed it to the local CHART group as a possible community project."

"The goals of the C.H.A.R.T. Teen Task Force are:
1) to encourage teens to make responsible choices (especially in delaying becoming sexually active until they fully understand the responsibilities and repercussions involved)
2) to improve teen-parent communication
3) to help teens recognize the importance of their personal goals and to see ways to reach them."

"Paramount in this endeavor would be for the community to show these young people that they are worthy of our interest, our support, our guidance and our efforts on their behalf. The production of this CHART Mural Project has involved area youth and adults in providing input, and in preparing and painting the panels. I especially want to thank Janel, Liz, Bianca, Ian, Tasha, Jared, Ashley, Kevin, Lydia, Mark and Maddy for sharing their dreams with me. Although this project has taken much longer than we'd hoped, I hope their dreams are still intact, and that they find the strength to reach them. This group effort is evidence to the public, and a constant reminder to ourselves, that we are concerned with the future, and those who will shape it - our children."

"There is a billboard, again sponsored by the CHART group, out on the highway headed north into town. It probably gets pooh-poohed by a lot of kids, but is really so on target, that I hope you will pay real attention to it: It shows a couple of smiling young teens sitting outdoors, with the slogan "Not Me. Not Now. - What smart teens say to sex..." The goal of the board's message is to get kids to think about their own futures and how getting sexually active too young can stop them in their tracks. It is so true. "

"If you can talk to, and really get to know some teen parents, they'll tell you - it's hard. It's not what they thought it would be. They wish they'd waited. They lost their freedom and their childhood. If you talk to, and really get to know some older parents who had their children too young, they will tell you, it was hard, it wasn't what they thought it would be, They wish they'd waited. They lost their freedom and their childhood, and they were not the parents they would like to have been. ...If that sounds repetitive, it is! It is an age-old mistake that gets repeated in every generation."

"One of the reasons I'm so interested in this is not just that I have kids, but that I was one of those kids who threw away some of what should have been the best years of my life. I was pregnant far too young, and married to the wrong guy, even before I got out of high school. That's all water under the bridge for me now, thankfully. I finally got my head on straight and found the right guy to be a good husband, life mate and father to my children when I was ready to have them. The difference in me and in my life between then and now is nothing less than miraculous."

"If I could go back in time & tell my teenaged self one thing that would have changed my life, it would be this: Sex makes babies - it isn't a game, it isn't the same thing as love, it isn't a hobby, it isn't even something that you have to practice at while you're young to be good at when you're older. It is a powerful force of nature & it leads to the most important job a person can ever take on - parenthood. Please. don't take it lightly. *Your* children deserve better than that."

"Here's a quote for you: 'Pro-Choice' or 'Pro-Life', the time to make the choice is BEFORE you get pregnant!"

"Please consider what I've said, and don't reject it just because some 'grown-up' told you it's important,(G) or because some of your friends think it's 'un-cool'. Think for yourself... It is YOUR future, after all."

Sarah A. McUmber-House, June 25, 2000

Sassafrass Grove
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