Girls across the network voted that Girls Inc. Week 2021 focuses on the theme of comprehensive sex education! This week we celebrate girls, staff, and our school partners in Shelby, Decatur, and Rush Counties.
During this week (May 3-7), we are highlighting the importance of comprehensive sexual education, dispelling myths, and celebrating how girls and Girls Inc. staff are advocating around the subject in their schools, peer groups, and communities.
The importance of comprehensive sexuality education
Sexuality is a fundamental aspect of human nature and can indeed affect a person’s quality of life. For this reason, it is vital to maintain a healthy sexuality. Although it is an essential factor of sexual health, being sexually healthy is much more than preventing pregnancy and protecting yourself from sexually transmitted diseases or infections. Sexual health has to do with maintaining one’s physical, emotional, mental, and social well-being. Sexual health includes having an absence of fear, guilt, or shame and having the ability to communicate effectively in different situations. Also, expressing yourself in the manner that you feel most represents your feelings and values. Overall, healthy sexuality promotes a positive self-image and a safe and healthy lifestyle.
At Girls Inc., staff work to ensure students have the proper knowledge, skills, and support to make positive decisions about their sexual health. This is accomplished by implementing Healthy Sexuality programming in their school-based programming curriculum.
About the Girls Inc. Healthy Sexuality Programming
Healthy Sexuality programming is a part of the Girls Inc.’s Strengthening, Teaching, and Redefining Teenagers (START) school-based programming curriculum administered to all students in Shelby, Decatur, and Rush County schools.
Healthy Sexuality is programming built on a foundation of:
- accurate information
- cultural sensitivity
- values of inclusiveness and respect
The focus of the program is to provide girls and boys with detailed information about their health, critical thinking skills about their relationships, and the ability to take charge of their sexual health.
Informed Together is part one of two in START’s Healthy Sexuality program catered towards 4th and 5th graders, ages 9-11. Through this program, boys and girls learn about healthy hygiene, nutrition, exercise, and their reproductive anatomy to keep their developing bodies healthy. The focus of this program is to teach students about the basics of puberty and the correct terminology and functionality of their reproductive systems to prepare them for this new stage of adolescence. Female students receive additional information about the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. At the same time, male students receive further details on seminal emissions.
Program staff provides a safe and inclusive environment for the students involved. Students leave the program with valuable knowledge and a hygiene kit filled with goodies that will help them maintain healthy hygiene. The hygiene kits include soap, shampoo, a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, a comb. There is also a sanitary napkin added to the hygiene kits for the female students. Throughout the program, students are encouraged to ask questions and reflect on what they have learned to help them feel supported and informed with their peers.
Informed and In Charge
Informed and In Charge is part two of the Healthy Sexuality program supplied to 6th– 8th graders, ages 12-14. Students learn the skills needed to make informed and thoughtful decisions about their sexual health. They understand the importance of respect and consent concerning their relationships. They also build skills that allow them to engage in meaningful and healthy relationships.
All Healthy Sexuality program curriculum is abstinence-based and follows Indiana Department of Education guidelines for Sex Education and the Health and Wellness Academic Standards. Program staff support girls and boys in ways that align with these guidelines while also encouraging students to think about their futures and the world around them. Program staff also allow many opportunities for students to discuss the information they are learning with their peers and ask questions to ensure all students are informed and in charge.
2020-2021 Program Results
For the 2020-2021 school year, our affiliate served students in Shelby, Decatur, and Rush County schools. The portion of these students that participated in the two Healthy Sexuality programs, Informed Together and Informed and In Charge, was 2,126 students. There were 744 students in the Informed Together program and 1,382 students in the Informed and In Charge program.
Students in both programs took a pre-test and a post-test to determine if students had learned from the programming. The average growth rate in students’ responses across all counties in the Informed Together program was 23.75%. The average growth rate in students’ responses across all counties in the Informed and In Charge program was 42.17%. The most improved upon question being: True or False – Abstinence is the only guaranteed way to prevent pregnancy and protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
Delivering A Lasting Experience
From the 2020-2021 program results, it is evident that START programming leaves a lasting impression on students. Many students leave the Healthy Sexuality programs with an appreciation for Girls Inc. and the staff members that directed and facilitated their Healthy Sexuality program.
Quotes from former students:
“I want to thank you for thinking of us and focusing on making sure we know how to be safe.”
“I learned a lot on how to control my life. I wish you could teach us more.”
“They did a great job at explaining. Thanks for the amazing presentation!”
“They made me feel comfortable during the class, and she was very nice and cool while teaching.”
Meet Girls Inc.’s START Staff:
Kayla Schmidt, Director of School-Based Partnerships
Warren Robison, Program Services Coordinator
Lillian Rowe, Program Facilitator
Wanda Ollie, Program Facilitator
Published May 4, 2021