By Sarah Snyder
LAMESA - "We all know it's a problem in all our schools and has been for a long time," said Iva Beck, Lamesa High Teacher and Sponsor.
That's why a group of students are tackling an issue that Lamesa High has never addressed before: teen pregnancy.
"These kids brainstormed a lot of problems they thought we have in our area and they felt like this was the most pressing," Beck said.
Texas has the highest teen pregnancy rates in the United States. For every 1,000 teen girls in Texas, 62 of them will give birth, and in the Permian Basin, for every 1,000 teen girls, 50 of them will give birth.
"Dawson County has a high teen pregnancy rate," Beck said. "According to the Department of Health, they are second in the state."
"I was a 15 year old and all of a sudden pregnant," Lamesa Mother Melida Casaraz, said. "We had no education at the time because it was back in the older days; so I say, mother didn't talk to us about it."
But that's what these students want to do: talk about it, and hopefully make a difference.
"Our hope is after this year, some community programs will be established in our community that will continue because we know that working together as a community is one way to help solve this problem," Beck said.
It's a community-wide endeavor. The school will work with local doctors and hospitals emphasizing abstinence and making good choices.
"We feel like all schools have a problem and maybe we can come up with some solutions that can help other communities have some ideas about what they can do and we'll see what happens with it," Beck said.
They're hoping to educate students and provide support to young mothers, something Melida says would have helped her as a teen mom.
"It was very very hard," Casaraz said. "All of a sudden you're not a kid or a teenager anymore. Your responsibility is that child. I would do anything to go back and be able to be a teenager again, be a cheerleader, all my high school years."
"It doesn't necessarily ruin their life because any child is a blessing, but it makes life more difficult," Lamesa Neighbor Joye Payton, said.
Their first event started on Thursday night and they'll hold events each month in hopes of inspiring students to make sound decisions.
"This is a community thing we're all working together to take care of," Beck said.