Our Whole Lives (OWL)

 

New RE News Re: OWL Below

September 14, 2017

Dear Parent(s) of a 5th or 6th grader,

As you may know, our church’s Religious Education program offers a comprehensive life-span sexuality education program called Our Whole Lives. This winter, UUCCSM will once again offer the O.W.L. class for grades 5 & 6.  As your child is eligible to participate, we invite you to read, and act on, the following information.

Philosophy: O.W.L., used in UU and UCC churches across North America, is based on four primary goals: 1) to provide accurate, developmentally appropriate information; 2) to increase self-esteem and understand relationships with and responsibilities toward others; 3) to develop interpersonal skills including communication, decision-making, and problem-solving; and 4) to teach responsibility for personal health and safety. There are five levels of curriculum materials available.  They are: Grades K-1, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12, Young Adult and Adult. 

Our Whole Lives for the younger grades nurtures and supports the “three Rs” of childhood sexuality—Respect, Relationships, and Responsibility—by helping children gain self-respect and respect for others, build relationships with members of all genders and with many kinds of families, and understand their responsibilities regarding their own health and that of others.  These curricula help participants integrate the values of the program with their own system of values within an open, affirming and bias-free environment and a community of trust and authenticity.

Logistics: Members of our congregation have been trained in the use of the materials, as well as how to integrate faith activities into each class session, and will be team-teaching the classes. Beginning in December, the group will hold 10 one and one-half hour sessions (in addition to regular Sunday school classes), from 10:30 am – 12:00pm beginning on December 10, 2017. Children will participate only with written permission from their legal guardians and only after guardians have attended two mandatory orientation sessions.

The dates for the grades 5/6 O.W.L. program are: Dec. 10 & 17, Jan. 21 & 28, Feb. 4, 11 & 18 and March 4, 11 & 18.  There will be an informal graduation around noon on March 18.  We hope your family can join in for that.

Parent Information Session- October 8, 2017 10:30- 11:00 AM: Join O.W.L. coordinators for a brief overview of our lifespan program. Forbes Room 4.

Orientations: Because this subject matter is both important and sensitive, O.W.L. works best when parents understand, agree with, and actively support the goals and methods of the curriculum. Therefore, in order for the students to participate, we require the attendance of at least one parent at both of the orientation sessions, as detailed below.

Parent Orientation Part 1. Sunday, November 12 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM, Rm. 4 - This information session for parents will introduce you to the class and our O.W.L. teachers. Childcare can be arranged, with advance notice.

Parent Orientation Part 2. Sunday, December 3rd, 1:30 – 4:30 PM, Rm. 4 - This meeting, for both parents and children, will consist of one session for parents, a concurrent session for youth, and a joint session.  The purpose of this meeting is to develop a sense of partnership between the O.W.L. teachers, participants and parents and to strengthen the family commitment to sexuality education.

Parent Involvement: Along with the program, we will offer parents several resources to help you discuss the class and the subject matter with your children. First, during the first orientation, we’ll see a video called “Raising Healthy Kids: Families Talk About Sexual Health.” You’ll also receive an 18-page booklet called “Becoming an Askable Parent: How To Talk with Your Child About Sexuality.”

We will also be asking each family to buy two curriculum companion books.  The first is titled Parent Guide to Our Whole Lives for Grades K-1 and Grades 4-6.  This book offers support to parents in your role as the primary sexuality educator of your child. The second, It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing up, Sex and Sexual Health, will be used by youth and parents to discuss specific topics at home together.  These “home links” are an integral part of the grades 5 & 6 O.W.L. program.

At the end of the Nov. 12 orientation session you will be asked to decide whether or not to enroll your child in the program and will be given an opportunity to review all print materials.  Based on the number of families who decide to participate, we will collect payment then place an order for the correct number of books.

Please note that the minimum number of enrollees is 10 and the maximum is 15.  We encourage you to let your friends know of this wonderful program offering.

We look forward to hearing from you with your RSVP.  Please contact Kathleen Hogue, DRE, at uusmdre@gmail.com at least a week in advance to let her know whether or not you will need childcare on Nov. 12th.

Please remember: If you want to enroll your child in O.W.L., attendance at the parent orientations is mandatory. Please contact us if you have a scheduling conflict.

We’re excited to be offering this important program at UUSM. We hope you can join us!

In faith,

Kathleen Hogue              

Director of Religious Education                          

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Our Whole Lives is a series of sexuality education curricula for five age groups: grades K-1, grades 5-6, grades 8-9, grades 10-12, and adults, developed by and used in UU and UCC churches across North America. Our Whole Lives helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. It equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. Grounded in a holistic view of sexuality, Our Whole Lives provides not only facts about anatomy and human development, but helps participants to clarify their values, build interpersonal skills, and understand the spiritual, emotional, and social aspects of sexuality.

In the 2017-2018 program year our RE program will offer two OWL classes – one for Kindergarten and 1st graders and one for 5th – 6th graders, taught by co-ed teams of church members who have attended official OWL trainings.   Children may participate only with written permission from their legal guardians and after their guardians have attended mandatory orientation sessions. (For information about the OWL program for adults, contact the Adult RE committee.) Classes will begin in October foK/1

Grades K and 1 class:  The OWL Grades K - 1 curriculum is based on specific values related to human sexuality.  It nurtures the worth and dignity of every participant.  It fosters loving, equitable and healthy relationships and counters injustices such as homophobia, stereotyping and sexism.  Children are encouraged to value themselves and act on their values throughout their lives.  This elementary age program is based on the philosophy that parents and religious communities can form a meaningful partnership for positive responsible sexuality education. 

Grades 5 and 6 class:  This class nurtures and supports the “three Rs” of childhood sexuality—Respect, Relationships, and Responsibility—by helping children gain self-respect and respect for others, build relationships with members of all genders and with many kinds of families, and understand their responsibilities regarding their own health and that of others.  This curriculum helps participants integrate the values of the program with their own system of values in an open, affirming and anti-bias environment and a community of trust and authenticity.

Parent information and orientation sessions offered prior to the start of the programs will be publicized in the church newsletter and order of service announcements.  Be on the lookout for more details coming later this fall.

For more information, contact Kathleen Hogue- DRE & OWL Coordinator