It’s what we want for our children, right? To be whole. Wholly themselves. Whole in mind, body, spirit. Really, we want nothing to come between them and their highest, truest potential. To be able to bring their whole self, whole life, whole basket of unique gifts to the world…unfettered. Free. Alive. Vibrant. Healthy.

Did you know that there’s an amazing resource for parents in service of that very goal? It’s a program called, “Our Whole Lives” (you see the connection, right?) A wonderful, inclusive, sexuality-positive program co-created by professional sexuality educators with the dedicated resources of two progressive religious denominations—the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. Organizations aligned around the goals of health and wholeness for all people…for all time. Committed to ending violence, harm, negativity, coercion, disease. Committed to upholding joy, goodness, respect, worthiness, inclusivity…and the idea that sexuality is a gift.

In the beautiful Our Whole Lives program whole takes on many dimensions:

Whole = from birth to death. Across the entire lifespan.

Whole = integrating sexuality and spirituality—both incredible life energies!

Whole = one, beautiful, perfect human being—just as they are.

People are often stunned to find out that the Our Whole Lives program is being taught in churches and synagogues across the nation. Yup, starting with wonderful kindergarten/first graders—and their parents, of course! Healthy sexuality. Bodies are good. Let’s understand! Where do babies come from? Good question! Oh and safety—yes, how to simply be confident in “No, Go, Tell” while living fully and freely. Good stuff.

Of course, come 4th-6th grade there is a different set of juicy questions/situations rising. Isn’t it wonderful to know that there’s an immersive curriculum where kids can connect, discover, talk, learn—all with joy and without a shred of shame?

Oh—-and I haven’t mentioned yet the VALUES of the Our Whole Lives Program. Self Worth. Sexual Health. Responsibility. Justice and Inclusivity. Yup—the stuff we really want for our children, right? “OWL” (as it’s affectionately known) gives our children immersion in these values…so that values become natural, templates for choices, in their hip pockets as they navigate our culture and it’s mixed messaging around the gift of sexuality!

Of course—the 7th-9th grade Our Whole Lives course is sort of the “mother lode”. A big, ol’, experiential, fun, engaging course for young people to really discover what’s real, what’s challenging, what’s risky, what’s right for them…all in the safe container of OWL.

And of course, just like sex ed. isn’t just the “Big Talk” (I trust you’ve all got that by now;), it doesn’t simply stop in middle/high school. So…there’s more! Our Whole Lives for 10th-12th graders. (Yup, the challenges are greater, the ability to discern better.) The OWL community/immersion experience as youth face life in the halls of the high school? Priceless. This level definitely preps youth for college, too! With joy, confidence and honesty.

Our Whole Lives for Young Adults spans the 18-35 year old cohort. Beautiful, real questions—with a chance to explore emerging cultural contexts, life choices. All with the goal of feeling profoundly in touch with one’s feelings, hopes, dreams. Creating a container for the freedom to navigate in ways that create more joy, less pain.

The rest of us adults? Yup, there’s an OWL program for us, too!

You’ll be delighted to know that all OWL programs are co-facilitated by trained leaders, prepared to create safe, honest, sexuality-positive space in which people of all ages can discover, grow and thrive!

If you’re curious about Our Whole Lives and all the potential it holds for your family , check out these websites. http://www.uua.org/re/owl http://www.ucc.org/justice_sexuality-education_our-whole-lives.
Or, check with a local UCC or UUA church in your neighborhood to see if they are running OWL for your children’s age group. Other denominations and nonprofit organizations that share the OWL values also teach OWL, too! It’s a wonderful thing.

Back to wholeness. My wish for you and for your family, is simply a life of joy. One where each person feels loved. Knows they are whole. And if I got a second wish—-it’s this: That you realize that there is a whole world out there that is prepared to assist you as a parent in being the fabulous sexuality educator that you desire to be. Our Whole Lives is one of those trusted partners. Parents really ARE the primary sexuality educators of their children (This is true whether you’re conscious of it or not!). Our Whole Lives exists to support you as you raise your beautiful children. Children conceived in love. Beautifully, wonderfully whole. Know that Our Whole Lives stands by to assist as you help them navigate the juicy journey that we call life!

I’ll give Peter the last word. He took OWL in 9th grade and this is what he had to say shortly after:

“People think OWL is about sex…and it is. But it’s really about respect.”

It’s been my experience that OWL gives children/youth a connection to their whole being. Their confidence. Their choices. Their understanding. Their dreams. Their bodies. Their hearts. Their questions. Their values. And that’s beautiful stuff. As a parent…I know that’s what I want. I’m guessing you do, too!

Lynn Young

Lynn is a passionate national Our Whole Lives trainer, a published author, a personal and professional coach, and the proud mother of two. Together with her husband, she delights in life at the base of Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs, CO.

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