Navigating the middle and high school years can be tricky for pre-teens and teens. They have come to a point in their lives where the choices they make can determine the direction of their future. Through the community-based Character And Relationships Education (C.A.R.E.) Program, passionate and caring adults go into Hancock County Schools to talk to middle and high school students about difficult topics such as peer pressure, substance abuse, sexual choices and long-term consequences of behavior with the goal of empowering them to make wise decisions and giving them hope for the future.
Meet Sara Tomlinson
One of those caring adults is Sara Tomlinson of Findlay who has been teaching with the C.A.R.E. program for three years. Originally from Richmond, Indiana, Sara and her family have lived in Findlay for ten years. Sara and Jim have been married for fifteen years and have two children: Emily (10) and Andrew (8). Sara works part time for the C.A.R.E. program, which allows her to be on the same schedule as her school-aged children.
She cares deeply about what she does. “I love making a difference in the lives of youth,” Sara said. “I hope the C.A.R.E. message gives them hope to make wise choices that lead them to have a healthy and happy future.”
It is clear from the anonymous feedback that Sara receives through comment cards that she is making an impact. One comment she recently received from a middle school student — “This program made me feel hope for the future,” and another student commented, “She taught me the reasons to stay abstinent…I was thinking of not doing that and now I am.”
While many adults would be intimidated talking to students about topics such as differences between guys and girls, pornography, and pregnancy, Sara rises to the challenge. She would like to do more to help the teens she teaches. “You go into the school and see students who need more care,” she said. “There are tough things going on in their lives and I would like to be able to do more follow-up with students.”
The Impact of the C.A.R.E. Program
The C.A.R.E. program succeeds in reaching 3,500 middle and high school students each year. Funded by the federal government and The Women’s Resource Center of Hancock County, the program encourages abstinence until marriage by presenting medically accurate information regarding Sexually Transmitted Infections, pregnancy and emotional hurt taught in creative and engaging ways including activities, games and videos to keep the topics interesting. They also encourage teens that it’s never too late to turn things around and begin making better choices. With big hearts and a lot of bravery, Sara and the C.A.R.E. Program teachers are providing hope during a challenging and influential time for teens.
The C.A.R.E. program accepts support and donations.
To help, contact Women’s Resource Center Director Laurie Turnow