My husband, daughter and I joined the congregation in 2013 when she was eight years old. At UUCA, we found a place that shares our values, a place where those values are brought to her by other people, in different ways than she gets at home. At UUCA, she sees that cool people – a.k.a. non-parental units – share those values. She is immersed in a whole community that strives to live with kindness, compassion, integrity, and justice.
She has come into a community of peers she loves, through youth group activities, and youth retreat weekends (“cons”) and camps at The Mountain.
She learned about world religions in our religious education program last year. And now, as an eighth grader, she is in the OWL (Our Whole Lives) class, a sexuality education program offered at UUCA every year.
In truth, OWL is one of the main reasons we joined the congregation. If you aren’t familiar with OWL, UUA describes it as 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.”
In OWL, they discuss everything from body image to consent, gender identity, sex and sexuality in the media (including social media), and much more. Her parents have discussed many, though not all, of these subjects with her. But it is a relief to know that if we miss something, or get something wrong or incomplete, that she is getting correct, value-based information from a trusted source. I wish this were available to every adolescent regardless of their congregation, regardless if they even have a congregation.
OWL is taught by a dedicated team of four teachers who have to be trained, then prepare for and thoughtfully present sensitive material to (easily embarrassed) teens every Sunday for 90 minutes from September to May. Bless ‘em for their service to our children and the world!
Louise Anderson, Board of Trustees