Carrie-Meghan Quick-Blanco & Selina Vickers
WISE & RESA 1
Kanawha & Raleigh
304.342.9188 & 304.256.4712 ext.1120
Healthy Relationships WV
Healthy Relationships WV allows parents to take the lead on the education of their kids regarding relationships and sexual health. WV has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the nation. Evidence shows that a comprehensive, age appropriate sexuality education program results in youth waiting longer to engage in sex and more likely to use condoms and birth control when they do become sexually active. The rates for abstinence are higher for Comprehensive Sex Education than it is for Abstinence Only education. This project will give parents the evidence and tools to present to their principal, superintendent and board of education to request a comprehensive sexuality education program and policy.
How the project got started: WV WISE and RESA 1 partnered to do a Healthy Relationships Initiative several years ago due to the high rates of teen pregnancy. Since then, we have over 150 health teachers, counselor and nurses and received positive feedback from teachers, principals and parents. We train on the FLASH – Family Life and Sexual Health curriculum.
Some schools are interested, but are concerned that parents don’t want comprehensive sexuality education offered in their school. This project gives parents the opportunity to ask for what they want and feel that their kids need – age appropriate, accurate information, while encouraging a process where kids and parents are encouraged to talk to each other about their values about relationships. (Cost and Time Estimates that would depend on number of people involved)
- Cost – Organizing Meeting costs – refreshments, mileage for parents, childcare & copies – $300
- Principal or Board of Education presentation – copies, mileage and childcare – $300
- Parent Question and Answer session prior to implementation – refreshments, mileage for parents, childcare and copies – $300
- Volunteer hours – coordination of meetings (about 30 hours), Meeting/Presentation (about 5 hours)
- Cost of the training – FLASH is free.
5 steps to start this project:
- Gather community steering committee – get everyone to the table (parents, business owners
- Build a plan – we all agreed on – end result for a large dream is necessary; be organized and survey community and stakeholders (KIDS, parents, teachers) to see what they want and what they are willing to do to get there!
- Fundraising began– approached local businesses – nothing is too small; in-kind donations of materials and time means a lot!
- Keeping local community aware to make contacts – utilize social media and any outlet to keep your larger community (and POTENTIAL DONORS) in the loop at all times.
- Celebrate, Celebrate all your victories (small and big) along the way! Celebrations are also awareness events and promotion and builds your volunteer and donor base
What did you learn?
We learned that most parents want to talk to their kids about their values around relationships, and would like the school to cover age appropriate, accurate information in Health class.
We learned that the fears of some teachers, principals and superintendents are relieved once a CSE program is implemented and they get positive feedback rather than the negative feedback they expect.
We learned that kids really want to have information to make their own choices and that when they have information, they tend to use that information to have healthier relationships.
Did you have a “A-Ha or Light Bulb” Moment?
Yes. We received this feedback from a teacher we trained in Mercer County.
“One parent told me that “it isn’t my job” to teach sexual health and that it should be left up to the parents to share information with the students. The parents of one child were adamant that their child not be in my classroom during the unit. She missed the lesson about trusted adults and that evening the other students went home and talked to their parents about trusted adults and who it was okay to talk to when they had questions about sexual health (their homework for that lesson). After the parents spoke to another parent that was talking about how great it was to be the ones leading the conversation that had been started in my classroom the parents changed their minds and the student attended the rest of the module.” – Middle School Health Teacher, Mercer County
This moment showed us that parents that are initially fearful end up liking the results once they give it a chance.
What was the biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
Funding was the biggest challenge because we were starting with nothing from scratch. How we overcame this was just ASKING for help and the money we needed. People want to help and they are out there. They just need to be asked.
What resources, videos, websites helped you put your project/strategy together?
How have you engaged the following partners in your strategy?
…parents and grandparents? Parents are encouraged to review the curriculum before a unit begins and each lesson has homework so that families can discuss their values regarding the issue discussed in school. Also, parents can choose to opt their child out of any lesson.
…students? Students are asked to give feedback on the unit.
…teachers and support staff? Teachers are offered training from nationally trained FLASH trainers and offered ongoing technical assistance through the WV WISE program and Advocates for Youth.
…principal/administrators? WV WISE will assist administrators, schools and school boards with technical assistance on developing policy that works for them and their school.