Making the right choices

Jan. 08, 2013 @ 09:05 PM

Cliff Baskerville, a former football standout at the University of North Carolina, helped spread the inspirational message of adolescent pregnancy prevention to leaders in Vance County on Tuesday.

Employees of the Vance County Learning Center, Success and Beyond Global of Henderson and Southern Vance High School all got training from Baskerville, who currently works for Choosing the Best, a company in Atlanta geared toward abstinence centered sex education curricula and training and resources.

While teachers at Southern Vance received training for Choosing the Best curriculum, implementation of the program into the school will be contingent upon the approval of members of the Vance County Board of Education, according to public information officer Terri Hedrick.

Prior to his employment with Choosing the Best, Baskerville played in the Arena Football League. He tried out for the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles and later went on to play in the Canadian Football League, where an injury led him to turn his focus from the playing field to the lives of young teens.

“I blew out my knee the second year in Canada,” Baskerville said. “Working with teens had always been on my heart.”

Growing up Baskerville, was inspired by his mother’s work as a social therapist and majored in communications and psychology at Chapel Hill.

“I got to see practices up close and personal,” Baskerville said. “I just had a heart for teens, and helping them make healthier choices.”

Baskerville was afforded the opportunity to reach out to the citizens of Vance County through a Competitive Abstinence Education Grant through the Administration of Children and Families.

“There were only nine of these programs funded nationwide,” said Cynthia J. Harris, president of CJH Educational Grant Services, Inc. “The grant is intended for teens, high risk, those most likely to experience unplanned pregnancy.

“We have to have a curriculum that has certain elements with it. We chose to use Choosing the Best because I knew that their curriculum met those criteria.”

Harris included Vance County when applying for the grant after researching counties with the highest teen pregnancy rate.

“At the time, they’ve changed since I’ve written the grant, Vance was second,” Harris said. “Now I think in the last few months they’ve dropped down to fourth or fifth.”

According to Harris in order to be sub-awardees of the grant, training is required under the facilitation of Baskerville.

“He’s really high spirited, and very involved,” Harris said. “He believes in family, and fatherhood. He’s a father of three.

“That was something he mentioned in the training this morning, was that monogamous lifelong committed relationships are important. That’s what you want to tell the kids.”

The Competitive Abstinence Education Program is targeted to serve 1,000 kids this year.

“We’ll probably do more,” Harris said. “For this particular grant, we’re on the books to serve 10 counties.

“Right now we’re serving about five or six, so before the year is out we’ll probably reach all 10.”

Contact the writer at amauser@hendersondispatch.com.