Kelly Lemons photo
for the Nobody's Fool
conference at the Waco
Convention Center are Brett
Farnum (from left), Frankie
Dakwaun Hampton, Jessica
Underwood, and Pat Stone.
2002 Nobody's Fool focuses on
Marla Pierson Lester
phrase jumped out at Pam
from a publication on teen pregnancy
in the 1980s. It showed a young
woman taking charge of her
relationships and saying, “I
ain’t going to be nobody’s
then education director of Planned
Parenthood of Central Texas, tagged
that name — Nobody’s Fool — to
a half-day conference on puberty,
dating and relationship issues.
13 years later, Nobody’s Fool has
served more than 5,000 young people
and won national awards. The name is
copyrighted. There is a training
manual and a training event each
year in conjunction with the
conference, scheduled this year for
of this has local origins,” said
Smallwood, who now serves as CEO of
the agency. “It truly is our
initial conference, an event open
only to girls, was in 1989.
thought maybe 20 girls would come to
this thing, and 100 showed up,”
she said. “It was very successful,
and it was obvious they were hungry
only complaints were that boys and
younger children weren’t included.
“We had parents saying, ‘My
fifth grader needs this
information,’” Smallwood said.
1990, which marked the first true
year of Nobody’s Fool as it is
today, organizers hoped for a couple
hundred kids. They got between 500
and 600, and attendance has remained
strong. The event is for youth
entering grades five through nine.
goal has always been to try to reach
kids before they start dating,”
Smallwood said. Although younger
kids already may be dating, the
serious romantic relationships tend
to be later in high school, she
lessons on everything from sexually
transmitted diseases to the
hallmarks of healthy and unhealthy
relationships, the half-day
conference is meant to open a
conversation that ideally the
youngsters will continue at home.
hope that they walk away with a
sense that relationships and
sexuality is a topic that’s
important, that’s talkable,”
said Pat Stone, Planned Parenthood's
education director. “For some
kids, that’s real supportive of
what’s at home. For some kids,
that’s a breath of fresh air.”
are split by age and gender, with
approaches geared to students' grade
girls are real curious about their
bodies and what’s happening to
them,” Stone said.
personal safety information for
older girls may focus on date rape,
sessions for younger girls will
emphasize appropriate and
they think the bad guys are going to
carry guns and be really creepy,”
Stone said. Conference teachers will
stress that inappropriate behavior
can come even from a seemingly nice
girls, on the other hand, want to
talk about healthy relationships,
she said. So they cover behaviors to
watch out for in dating, such as the
boyfriend who insists his girlfriend
carry a beeper everywhere so he can
reach her at all times.
they don’t hear that as a
potential red flag, they may think,
‘Cute, he wants to keep up with
me,’ ” Stone said. “What we
hope to do is give them some
guidelines of what does make a
healthy relationship and give them
some red flags.”
also are split by gender, which
Smallwood says is mostly a matter of
believe boys and girls need to hear
each other on this,” she said.
“We have to split the kids up
somehow and that’s just an easy
way to do this.”
content is updated every year, but
the topics remain the same. “We
try to make every classroom more interactive every year,” Stone said. “We can present
some pretty serious issues, but if
we can do it in an interactive, fun
method, the kids react to it. They
room has a question box in which
students can submit any question
they have. Those are answered later
in the session.
participants learn at the conference
is not all they need to know. Stone
stresses that in three hours, the
conversation about sexuality has
just begun. Each participant will
receive a packet of resources that
Stone says can provide a framework
for further conversations at home.
participants return year after year,
and new material is presented at
each grade level.
fun," Stone said. "It
really does have a fun
of the 100 volunteers needed to put
on the conference come year after
year, as well. Two teachers who are
trained health educators take a lead
role in each classroom, and then volunteers fill in the gaps.
said the support of local agencies
and businesses also has played an
important role in the success of
Nobody's Fool over the years.
think that adds to its success. When
parents look at the brochure and
they see 'X’ number of local
businesses are donating money,
agencies (are involved) — that
lends a lot of credibility to a
subject a lot of parents find very
uncomfortable,” she said.
Registration costs $5.
Transportation is available, as are
a limited number of scholarships.
Preregistration is suggested.
MORE INFORMATION: Call 759-5777,
with permission of
Today, a product of
the WacoTribune-Herald, Copyright 2002
Lake Shore Baptist Church
5801 Bishop Drive
Waco, Texas 76710