Time to roll up my sleeves and plan the details of how to spend the first 1.5 hour meeting of what I will refer to now simply as “Girls Group.” Unlike health education classes at school that have a dozen or more classes in which to meet, I have to be a model of efficiency, with only five meetings expected to take place. With so many topics I want to cover and so little time, I have to be very selective in choosing what to cover, incorporate subject matter identified by the parents as gap areas, and address what is on the minds of the group participants themselves. A tall order but a challenge for which I am ready, particularly with the easy availability of such important resources as the Sexuality Education Information Council of the United States. Having access to the internet is an enormous asset that still amazes me, making my role as group facilitator and informant infinitely easier. At the same time, with so much information that I know I can access but simply don’t have time to read, I have to push away perfectionist tendencies that make me want to absorb it ALL.
Thankfully, I do not have to reinvent the wheel. The King County Family Life and Sexual Health (F.L.A.S.H.) curriculum is one example of an age-appropriate curriculum complete with worksheets, activities, and “homework” assignments for participants to engage their families. It offers materials I can use or adapt, depending on where I think my Girls Group participants are on their sexuality education continuum.
Meanwhile, with my head buried in books and my computer monitor, my preteen son decides he is the authority on what constitutes a successful Girls Group.
“You better make it fun,” were the threatening words he warned as he saw me preparing for the first meeting.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Don’t get too serious or anything. Just play games,” he explained.
Oh, but I was already two steps ahead of my sage boy. And in fact, games comprised half of my agenda for our first meeting. I knew I couldn’t launch into a presentation about what it means to feel empowered, or <gasp>, the mechanics of reproduction, without first establishing group rapport. If I want to engage these girls in a productive group discussion, build trust, and see them again, then I knew just what to put on the menu. Fun ice breakers. Not the ice breakers that sends your stomach into somersaults with worry over the thought of revealing too much personal information, but games that promote group cohesiveness, respect for individual participants, and offer an opportunity to give out small quantities of candy. In fact, if you want to keep your group happy, I have learned that food of almost any kind is well-received.