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From Learners to Facilitators: Working with Youth Educators to Develop Pre-adolescent Sex Ed Program

Since March 2021 TabuTabu and Honduras Child Alliance have been working to develop and implement an age-appropriate sexuality education curriculum for 6-11 year olds in HCA’s ongoing educational offering. How? By training their team of youth educators through remote sexuality education train-the-trainer type workshops. With 20 online workshops totaling to a total of over 198 cumulative hours of work, the team of “PEP Professionals” has been learning about sex and sexuality, practicing how to lead and participate in safe conversations about these usually-taboo subjects, and troubleshooting activities for the tailor-made curriculum.

PEP Professionals (youth educators) working through an activity as part of the TabuTabu-run sexuality education train-the-trainer style workshops at HCA.
Who has been involved and how have we been collaborating?

The team of Youth Educators involved in this program is made up of Honduran “PEP” (Porvenir Educational Program) Professionals who live in El Porvenir, and international volunteers. Many of the PEP Professionals first engaged with HCA as students themselves, and now join the HCA team, becoming role models to the current generation of children in their community. The international volunteers are youth from across the world that arrive in El Porvenir to participate in HCA’s ongoing programming and work with the local team. This mix of perspectives is particularly enriching both in terms of learning how to discuss taboo subjects with virtually anyone, as well as how to explore and sit with opinions different to one's own — both key aspects to become successful sexuality education facilitators.

In meetings held every 3 to 5 weeks online (with TabuTabu founder Laura joining remotely, and PEP Professionals and international volunteers meeting in person in El Porvenir), the group explored and discussed a range of knowledge areas regarding human sexuality. TabuTabu’s approach to collaboration centers on co-creation: this means actively listening to the opinions and perspectives of the local team who is most familiar with our learners’ realities. Thus, the conversations held in these workshops have laid the foundation for the curriculum that we are developing for implementation in HCA’s classrooms.

A group activity during one of the TabuTabu-HCA train-the-trainer style workshops.
Why involve local youth in program development?

Working with youth to develop HCA sexuality education programming is critical in developing relevant activities that HCA’s students can benefit from. Sexuality education in Honduran public schools has been a historically controversial subject in the formal education system. Whilst, to a certain degree, there is more flexibility working in non-formal settings such as HCA’s educational enrichment program (which acts as extracurricular activities for children), it is important to ensure that the activities developed are culturally, contextually and age appropriate. The key to this collaboration is, therefore, working with HCA’s PEP Professionals, who bring both the perspective of the local realities, as well as the vision of what sexuality education programming in El Porvenir could look like.

In exchange, both local and international workshop participants benefit from a space to practice normalizing safe dialogue around sex and sexuality. This is a very useful life skill —one that arguably everyone, anywhere needs— that the youth can hone in this project. In fact, these sexuality education workshops form part of the wider professional development initiatives that HCA offers its team.

What sexuality education topics have been covered in their training?

The sexuality education train-the-trainer style workshops have covered most areas of what is known as “comprehensive sexuality education”, and included topics that were suggested by the PEP Professionals at the start of the collaboration. These included:

  • How bodies work (anatomy and physiology of bodies with vulva/uterus and bodies with a penis)

  • Gender vs. sexual orientation

  • Menstruation (and Menopause)

  • Mental health and peer/social pressure

  • Relationships and love

  • Consent and personal boundaries

  • Pregnancy (and Abortion)

  • STIs

  • Condoms and other contraceptive methods

  • Sexual abuse and violence

  • Who am I? Intersectionality

  • Freedom of physical and psychological expression

  • LGBTQI+ topics

  • Respecting different people’s decisions

It is worth highlighting that the workshops were designed to equip HCA’s youth educators with the knowledge, skills and responses necessary to facilitate sexuality education activities for younger children. In order to do this responsibly, it was important to have a breadth of conversations in order for the youth educators to intentionally explore their own perspectives, biases and internalized beliefs, in order to become more conscious facilitators. For this reason, the topics discussed with these young adults are broader and more comprehensive than those that will be covered in class with the 6-11 year olds.

What is the end goal, and what are the next steps?

We are working towards sustainably implementing a sexuality education curriculum in HCA’s ongoing program for children aged 6-11 that normalizes consent and body autonomy, explores healthy relationships, builds students’ communication skills, and their understanding of sexual orientation and gender identity to promote respect and inclusion. In order to do this, here’s what we’re working on:

  1. Training the team (through the above-outlined workshops)

  2. Developing the curriculum (product of the workshops, as well as the TabuTabu + HCA’s Education team collaboration)

  3. Reaching out to the wider community (to ensure that parents, teachers and key community leaders are aware, informed, onboard and aligned with the program and its objectives - more information on this coming soon!).

As always, watch this space for updates!


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