The Beacon Religious Exploration program is pleased to announce two Our Whole Lives (OWL) classes for children and youth this fall — one for children in 5th and 6th grades, and one for youth in 7th and 8th grades.
OWL is a widely acclaimed lifespan sexuality education curriculum, developed jointly by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. OWL provides accurate, developmentally appropriate information for all ages about a range of topics, including relationships, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual health, and cultural influences on sexuality. Classes are facilitated by dedicated Beacon members who have received training and certification through the UUA. You can read all about OWL on the UUA website, www.uua.org/re/owl.
It is our philosophy that parents are the primary sexuality educators for their children, and this is a way our faith community supports parents in that effort. We hope the OWL program serves as a catalyst for healthy conversations at home.
5th AND 6TH GRADES
The curriculum for 5th and 6th graders is designed to help children gain the knowledge, life principles, and skills they need to express their sexuality in life-enhancing ways. The topics we discuss, in age appropriate language, include health and safety, puberty and growing up, friendship and family relationships, gender identity and expression, and communication and decision-making skills. Active learning is a key component, with plenty of games and fun. Kay Doggett, Joe Wegwert, Mary Poore, and Bruce Celiz-Hagen will be leading this class, assisted by Matt Minister. Parents are required to attend two meetings: an introductory meeting to help them determine whether this experience would be satisfying for their child and family; and the first session, which involves the child and at least one parent. Parents must grant written consent for their child’s participation. Four additional sessions will involve the children only. The following sessions will be held at Beacon:
Sunday, Aug 27 11:30 am-1:30 pm
Wednesday, Aug 30 5:30 pm-7:30 pm
Sunday, Sept 10 5:00 pm-7:00 pm
Sunday, Sept 24 2:00 pm-5:30 pm
Sunday, Oct 8 2:00 pm-5:30 pm
Sunday, Oct 22 2:00 pm-5:30 pm
Sunday, Oct 29 2:00 pm-5:30 pm
7th AND 8TH GRADES
The curriculum for 7th and 8th graders is interactive and fun! The core values of OWL – self-worth, sexual health, responsibility, and justice & inclusivity – guide the discussions. In an environment of safety and openness, participants learn about sexual behaviors, sexual orientation/gender identity, sexually transmitted infections, the birth process, making healthy choices, and much more. The facilitators will be Dee Wegwert, Andy Hogg, Nora Timmerman, and Cassie Dakan. Parents are required to attend an introductory meeting and to sign a consent form. Four sessions for the youth only will take place at Beacon all day on four Saturdays. The schedule will be:
Sunday, Sept 10 5:00 pm-7:00 pm
Wednesday, Sept 13 5:30 pm-7:30 pm
Saturday, Sept 16 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Saturday, Oct 7 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Saturday, Nov 4 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Saturday, Nov 18 9:00 am-4:00 pm
We hope to have many young people in each of the classes! The classes are more fun – and the activities are more effective – if there is good enrollment. Families from outside the Beacon congregation are very welcome to participate as long as the parents attend an orientation and give consent. Some of our Beacon participants may enjoy having a friend along! Please feel free to share this information or notify us of other families to contact.
To help cover the costs of snacks and food, as well as the training and curriculum expenses, we request a donation from each family. However, we would not want this request to be a barrier to participation. Please speak to one of the program coordinators if this is a concern. Requested donations are: For 5th-6th grade class – $50-$100 for Beacon members, $75-$125 for nonmembers. For 7th-8th grade class – $75-$125 for Beacon members, $100-$150 for nonmembers.
Please let one of us know if your family has interest in Our Whole Lives this fall. It is very helpful to anticipate enrollment. And don’t hesitate to contact us with questions.
OUR WHOLE LIVES: LIFESPAN SEXUALITY EDUCATION
Honest, accurate information about sexuality changes lives. It dismantles stereotypes and assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, fosters healthy relationships, improves decision making, and has the potential to save lives. For these reasons and more, we are proud to offer Our Whole Lives (OWL), a comprehensive, lifespan sexuality education curricula for use in both secular settings and faith communities.
Interactive workshops and lessons engage participants, while step-by-step instructions for program planners and facilitators help ensure success. Six curricula speak to participants’ needs, by age group:
- grades K-1
- grades 4-6
- grades 7-9
- grades 10-12
- young adults
Our Whole Lives helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. With a holistic approach, Our Whole Lives provides accurate, developmentally appropriate information about a range of topics, including relationships, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual health, and cultural influences on sexuality.
Our Whole Lives Offers…
- Accurate information presented in developmentally appropriate ways
- Affective and emotional learning
- Guiding values and principles
- Activities that help participants clarify values and improve decision-making skills
- A safe and supportive peer group
- Acceptance of diversity
- A social justice approach to inclusive sexuality education
- Step-by-step instructions for program promotion, implementation, and facilitation
- Parent orientation that affirms parents as their children’s primary sexuality educators
- Facilitator trainings and continuing education to increase knowledge, skills, confidence
- Expert user support from OWL Program Associate (UUA) and OWL Program Coordinator (UCC)
- Sexuality and Our Faith, an optional religious supplement for use in Unitarian Universalist and United Church of Christ settings.
Our Whole Lives Values…
While Our Whole Lives is secular, it is not value-free. The program gives clear messages about the following key sexuality issues:
- self worth
- sexual health
- justice and inclusivity
Our Whole Lives recognizes and respects the diversity of participants with respect to biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and disability status. The activities and language used throughout the program have been carefully chosen to be as inclusive as possible of this human diversity.
Who Uses Our Whole Lives?
Our Whole Lives is used in faith communities as well as by public, charter, and private schools; after-school programs; youth groups; home schoolers; colleges; correctional facilities; and groups in other settings. Although developed by two religious organizations, Our Whole Lives contains no religious references or doctrine.
Our Whole Lives: Approaches that Work
Our Whole Lives covers topics and skills that both parents and students want to have available but schools are less likely to cover. National surveys show that most parents, along with educators and students themselves, would expand sex education courses and curriculum. Our Whole Lives is an excellent way to accomplish that goal.
Our Whole Lives curricula are based on the Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education (PDF) produced by the National Guidelines Task Force, a group of leading health, education, and sexuality professionals assembled by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). In every category of assessment, the curriculum meets or exceeds the National Standards for Sexuality Education Core Curriculum, K-12.
Sexuality and Religion
The Our Whole Lives program can be put into the context of religious values with the addition of the Unitarian Universalist and United Church of Christ companion publication, Sexuality and Our Faith. The reasons sexuality education belongs in a religious setting are outlined in the brochure Sexuality is Honored Here.
Our Whole Lives users from several faith traditions have created their own companion document. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Volunteer for our OWL Program!