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The First O.W.L. Session

I just got back a little bit ago from my first session as a facilitator for the Our Whole Lives program my church, along with four other local Unitarian Universalist congregations, is running for our youth in grades 7-9.


Wow. Just, wow.

For those who don't already know about OWL, it's a lifespan sexuality-education curriculum developed jointly by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. Different OWL courses cover material for everyone from kindergarten to adult. A couple of years ago, I happened across the OWL curricula; reading through them, I asked myself "where the hell was this stuff when I was growing up?" The answer, of course, was "well, it hadn't been written yet" - still, I was frustrated that I hadn't had any sort of safe place to learn about sexuality, values, gender identification, etc. as a teenager. So I volunteered to become a facilitator, went through the training, and now ...

We've got forty-eight youth and a dozen adult facilitators signed up. That, quite frankly, is a huge crowd - so we split up into four smaller groups for many of the activities. The youth involved are all seventh through ninth graders (ages 13-15, in case any non-USAian folks are reading this), split about 3:1 female-to-male; most but not all have grown up in UU congregations. Some (but by no means all) of the youth have been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome; others with ADHD; others with anorexia nervosa. This, obviously, makes for some interesting challenges for we facilitators.

But ... holy cow, what more can I say? These kids are wonderful, even the "higher maintenance" ones. At first, it was clear that many of the kids were only here because their parents made them come. After we wrapped up on Saturday afternoon, though, it seemed to me (and to my fellow facilitators) that just about everybody was participating in their own ways, and having fun doing so.

I'm looking forward to the next few months!

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