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Our Whole Lives

Our Whole Lives Lifespan Sexuality Education Curricula

Our Whole Lives is a series of sexuality education curricula for six age groups. Since 2000, UU Santa Fe has offered Our Whole Lives (often referred to as “OWL”) to youth in grades 7-9, alternating years with our Coming of Age program. OWL for grades 10-12 has also been offered on several occasions when we have youth of this age enrolled in Children, Youth and Family Ministry. In the fall of 2014 we offered OWL for grade 6 for the first time.

The Unitarian Universalist Association says this about the program: “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 not only provides facts about anatomy and human development, but also helps participants clarify their values, build interpersonal skills, and understand the spiritual, emotional, and social aspects of sexuality.”

OWL2-08.14This additional information about Our Whole Lives comes from the Unitarian Universalist website:

Our Whole Lives uses approaches that work The 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).

Our Whole Lives covers topics and skills that both parents and students want to have available but schools are less likely to cover. The Kaiser Family Foundation has an interesting report on this subject called "Sex Education in America: A View from Inside the Nation's Classrooms." New national surveys are challenging the convention that Americans are reluctant to have sexual health issues taught in school. The surveys show that most parents, along with educators and students themselves, would expand sex education courses and curriculum.

Our Whole Lives Values

    • Self-Worth
    • Sexual Health
    • Responsibility
    • Justice and Inclusivity

Our Whole Lives Levels Offer

    • Up-to-date information and honest, age-appropriate answers to all participants' questions
    • Activities to help participants clarify values and improve decision-making skills
    • Effective group-building to create a safe and supportive peer group
    • Education about sexual abuse, exploitation, and harassment
    • Opportunities to critique media messages about gender and sexuality
    • Acceptance of diversity
    • Encouragement to act for justice
    • A well designed, teacher-friendly leaders' guide
    • Parent orientation programs that affirm parents as the primary sexuality educators of their children
    • Sexuality and Our Faith, an optional religious component for Unitarian Universalist and United Church of Christ settings.

Our Whole Lives for Upper Elementary:

8-session program for learning about and discussing the physical and emotional changes of puberty. Participants will read It's Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris, and examine topics such as values and sexuality, communication and decision making. Each session includes a HomeLink - a homework activity for parents and children to complete together. 

Our Whole Lives for grades 7-9:

A sexuality education program for youth that models and teaches caring, compassion, respect, and justice. A holistic program that moves beyond the intellect to address the attitudes, values, and feelings that youth have about themselves and the world.

Unlike many other sexuality curricula currently available, this program is comprehensive and progressive. In an inclusive and developmentally appropriate manner, it addresses sensitive topics that are typically excluded. Although the curriculum was developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ, this volume is completely secular and free of specific religious doctrine or reference. However, the underlying values of the program reflect the justice-oriented traditions of both denominations.

Maintaining the OWL values and assumptions established in the first edition, the second edition introduces new content, activities, perspectives, language, and resources for today’s young teens. New topics include body image, social media/internet, bullying/bystander responsibilities, and consent education. Popular activities and discussion topics remain, and users have more options for alternate activities and multi-media resources to accommodate their participants’ specific needs and interests. A facilitation guide offers suggestions for including youth with special needs in OWL programs.

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