Our Whole Lives Program
Our Whole Lives provides a comprehensive, interactive, and shameless look at “sexuality education” for young people and their parents. The goal of sexuality education is to help its students make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health/behavior with a “holistic” view of sexuality as social, emotional, and spiritual, instead of just physical.
We are hoping to deliver OWL again in Spring 2017
Next OWL Program in the Comox Valley:
We are currently in our yearly planning stage.
We have trainers for K-1 and for grades 4-6.
Here’s the information about the 2016 OWL for Grades 4–6 which supports the “three R’s” of childhood sexuality education: Respect, Relationships, and Responsibility.
In eight one‐hour workshops, OWL models and teaches caring, compassion, respect, and justice. It helps children understand the physical and emotional changes of puberty. This curriculum covers a range of topics—health and safety, media and body image, love, family and friends, puberty and growing up, sex and gender, communication, and decision making—in age-appropriate language.
We have only 15 places for children in the Gr 4-6 course.
Our Whole Lives requires that families are fully aware of the nature and contents of the program before we begin and commit to fully participate in the program. Due to the sensitive nature of the content, we will take extra care when selecting participants.
Before your child’s place is confirmed, we will work with you to determine if this is the right program for you and your family. Once you have registered your interest in OWL,our Program Coordinator, Amanda Ridgway will contact you directly to discuss more about the program,learn more about your child/ren and ensure you are clear on the expectations of your families involvement through the duration of the program.
If OWL is the right fit for your family and our team determines we can support your child in the group with all the other children, we will offer you a place in the program and ask you to confirm by paying the program fee.
Meet the OWL training team, see the teaching curricula and get answers to your questions.
2017 – To be announced.
@ CVUF – 250 Beach Rd, Comox.
- A Parent Meeting;
- A Parent/Child Orientation;
- 8 one-hour weekly sessions for children.
Some of our session topics:
⦁ Sexuality and Values
⦁ Images in Popular Culture
⦁ Body Image
⦁ Changes in Puberty
⦁ Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation
⦁ Feelings and Attraction
⦁ Decisions and Actions
⦁ Reproduction and Staying Healthy
⦁ Understanding Consent
⦁ Healthy Relationships, Communication, and Celebrations!
Dates: Parent-Child Orientation (2hr session) – to be confirmed with participating families;
Children’s 8-week program
Program Fees: $TBC includes all course materials & snacks for children. (We are aiming to fill the course to keep costs down. There a few limited bursaries are available. 2016 fees were $60.
OWL was a great experience which allowed me to learn about all aspects of sexuality and life. I am glad that I did the program ever since – what I learned will help me for the rest of my life.
More about the OWL program
What does OWL teach?
Our Whole Lives provides honest, accurate, developmentally appropriate information about a range of topics, including relationships, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual health, and cultural influences on sexuality. Children need clear, accurate, age-appropriate information about sexuality, human development, and sexual health presented children in positive, accurate, and developmentally appropriate ways. Every individual as the right to have his/her/their questions answered. OWL dismantles stereotypes and assumptions, builds self-acceptance and self-esteem, fosters healthy relationships, improves decision making, and has the potential to save lives. The values emphasized in the curricula are:
- Sexual health
- Justice and inclusivity
The program offers:
- Up-to-date information and honest answers to questions on sexuality and healthy relationships
- 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 and social media messages about gender and sexuality
- Acceptance of diversity
- Encouragement to act for justice
OWL is a family-focused program
Parents and caregivers are the primary sexuality educators with the primary goal to raise sexually healthy children.
Sexuality education begins and continues at home. Children learn about sexuality from how people touch them, talk with them and expect them to behave. The larger community of educators and caregivers can have a positive influence on children’ s sexual health.
Our Whole Lives aims to provide teachings and resources that enhance open and honest communication and conversations about sexuality and that support parents and caregivers as the key sexual health educators of their children’s lives. Open communication builds trust in families.
OWL Education is a partnership between the educating institution and the parent. Fundamental is forging a strong partnership between the educating institutions and home and a strong bond between parent and child. To achieve this, the program includes parents participation in an initial meeting and an orientation session alongside the weekly group education sessions with the children.
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.
Make healthy decisions
Role model healthy communication
Build rapport within family
Scared others will take over that role (of educating their children)
Learn the words to use
Framework for discussions
More okay with who they are (self-love) and be okay with others (tolerance)
Who delivers OWL?
In the Comox Valley, The Our Whole Lives Program is delivered by the Comox Valley Unitarian Fellowship (CVUF).
Unitarian fellowships all over Canada deliver these programs. Our Whole Lives is used in public, charter, and private schools; after-school programs; youth groups; faith groups; home schoolers; colleges; correctional facilities and groups in other settings.
OWL trainers are chosen for their experience working with and teaching children, their warm, caring and engaging personalities and their ability to openly and sensitively meet participants where they are at as groups as they navigate the topics. OWL trainers are certified after completing specialist training and have clean criminal records.
Although developed by two religious organizations Unitarian Universalists and United Church, Our Whole Lives contains no religious references or doctrine.
A wholehearted thank you for your listening, your guidance, and your insights. I cannot know all of the foundations, enlightenments, and inquiries that [our son] has been given through the process of the OWL program but feel certain that we owe you a huge debt of gratitude. Having you all as part of the village that raises our son (and hopefully someday our daughter as well) gives me such peace in knowing that he is not alone, making connections through trusted, diverse, and meaningful relationships with elders and peers. I know this experience has changed my son and will be a part of him his ‘whole life’.
An OWL parent in Vancouver, BC
The programs fundamental values and beliefs
- All children should be loved, cared for, respected, and valued as unique individuals.
- Sexuality is a natural and healthy part of living.
- Children begin to learn about sexuality at birth and continue to learn throughout their lives.
- Children learn about sexuality from how people touch them, talk with them, and expect them to behave.
- The messages that children receive affect their future attitudes, values, and behaviors.
- Information about sexuality, human development, and sexual health should be presented to children in positive, accurate, and developmentally appropriate ways.
- Parents and caregivers are their children’s most important sexuality educators.
- The larger community of educators, caregivers, and health professionals can also have a positive influence on children’s sexual health.
O.W.L. helped me to form my own values for better sexual decision making by touching on nearly all topics associated with it. I questioned my own sexuality in a safe environment without judgment, I listened to my male peers open up about masculinity, but most importantly I came to my own conclusions about the right decisions for my sexual health instead of having my graying, sexist gym teacher ordain them for me. Although I could not articulate it at the age of 14, I wished that my peers at school had the same opportunity to experience what I now believe could be the solution to America’s sex-ed problem. (Learn more about Savannah’s experience on her blog).
Links to OWL info and info about sex education in the news
IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Experienced The Controversial “OWL Sexuality Education” and Your Kids Should, Too ; XO Jane blog, June, 2015.
Sex education across Canada; Global news article , FEb 2015.