Pre-registration for OWL Grades 10th-12th. Parent Orientation (required) Monday September 30, 6:30pm

August 21, 2019

Dear youth and/or parents and caregivers,

I’m writing to let you know we are offering an Our Whole Lives (OWL) class for 10th-12th graders this coming church year. We are very excited to continue our Unitarian Universalist tradition of using OWL to support youth in gaining the knowledge, life principles and skills they need to express their sexuality in life-enhancing ways.

As many of you know from past participation, OWL puts sexuality into the context of values and personal responsibility, helping participants manage social pressure and advocate for equality. Unlike many other sexuality curricula, OWL 10th-12th is not focused solely on preventing or reducing problems such as high rates of sexually transmitted infections and unintended teen pregnancies. While the program certainly prepares youth with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills to avoid these consequences, it has the more proactive goal of helping youth to become sexually healthy people who feel good about themselves and their bodies, remain healthy, and build positive, equitable loving relationships.

Another unique strength of OWL in comparison with other programs in Central VT is the high level of communication with parents and caregivers. Facilitators normally send out a brief but informative recap after each session, that respect confidentiality of discussion, but highlights main content and empowers families to continue these discussions at home.

The program for 10th-12th grades consists fourteen 2 hour workshops led by trained facilitators from our congregation. At times we choose to creatively consolidate some of the workshops so that there are fewer separate sessions, though longer in length. We’re very fortunate to be able to welcome back the talented OWL volunteer team of Becky Webber, Mara Iverson, and Peter Watt.

The facilitators make a significant investment into planning a thoughtful progression of workshops to engender trust and build on the knowledge from the previous week's workshop. Because of this, participants are required to make a strong committment to to the group in terms of consistent attendance.

Our OWL facilitators would like to especially encourage parents of male youth to consider whether your child needs reinforcement of the values of communication, respect, and consent that OWL emphasizes. We know that many youth have full schedules, especially in late high school, and understand that OWL is a commitment for the whole family. Nonetheless, we have noted a striking gender gap in UCM’s OWL classrooms. As in the broader society, our young women—all with their equally busy, hectic lives--have been the primary recipients of sexuality education. They will be going out into a world that expects them to bear primary responsibility for being healthy, safe, making good choices, communicating with their partners, setting and respecting boundaries, and modelling healthy consent in their relationships. We believe that this responsibility shouldn’t rest with women alone, and so we want to encourage our community’s families to choose OWL for their children, of all genders, so that they can grow into adults who are prepared to share equally in the responsibilities and joys of relationships.

So there you have the “what” of 10th-12th OWL, please read on to see more specifics.

Who: Any 10th-12th graders from within the Unitarian Church of Montpelier (UCM) and possibly beyond. We welcome interest from the wider community and will happily accept youth from outside our congregation as space allows.

Where: Sessions will take place at UCM (130 Main St.) in one of the classroom spaces.

When: The current plan for OWL 10th-12th is as follows (if we’ve missed some major schedule conflict that impacts several families, we may adjust).

Parent Orientation: Monday, Sept. 30, 6:30pm.
Childcare available upon advance request
(Please give 1 week's notice to Liza at ucm.dre@gmail.com).

Sessions (youth only) are all Sundays--10:30am -12:30pm unless otherwise indicated
10/6
10/20
10/27
11/10
11/22 - 11/23 (chaperoned overnight at the church)
12/8
1/5 DOUBLE session
1/26
2/9
3/8
3/22 (a DOUBLE session only *IF* we’ve had to cancel a previous session)
4/5 Final session and celebration!

How: Please pre-register for OWL using this form or by emailing Liza at ucm.dre@gmail.com Deadline for pre-registration is Wed. Sept. 18th. (This will give us time to recruit more youth if necessary to round out numbers.) We will confirm with families from the wider community by Thurs. Sept. 19th if there is space available. The parent orientation is the first step to enrolling your child in the program, though it by no means obligates you to enroll. If you have questions before the parent orientation, please feel free to contact me at the phone or email below.

Clear communication with parents is key to a successful OWL, so this parent orientation is a pre-requisite for participation in the program, with at least one parent/caregiver in attendance for each family. That said, we strongly encourage ALL parents and caregivers to join in the parent orientation to find out more about this specific level of OWL and to meet (or re-connect with) the facilitators. You’ll be able to hear more details about the curriculum, see the teaching materials, and ask questions, and raise any schedule conflicts that may be a shared concern.

Warmly,


Liza Earle-Centers
Director of Lifespan Spiritual Exploration
Unitarian Church of Montpelier
(802) 223-7861 ext. 2
ucm.dre@gmail.com
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