Posted on 20 January 2015 by Rachel
RA SPOTLIGHT - STIRLING
20 January 2015
IN SEPTEMBER, STIRLING BAPTIST CHURCH, FUNDED BY A CINNAMON NETWORK GRANT, LAUNCHED STIRLING'S FIRST EVER ROMANCE ACADEMY.
Over the following weeks, they worked with a group of young people, who are a mix of boys and girls from many different backgrounds coming together to unpack, challenge and discuss anything and everything about relationships and romance. Having visited Stirling towards the end of their course and heard the amazing things they were doing, we asked Rob and Jo, SBC’s Project Co-ordinators to tell you about their experiences…
WHAT WERE YOUR INITIAL FEARS?
That no one would turn up! But as soon as we opened the doors, the young people that we had been chatting to in the weeks leading up to the launch, walked straight in and were ready to go. As the weeks went by they really opened up and over time any fears of awkwardness vanished.
HOW HAVE THE YOUNG PEOPLE CHANGED BECAUSE OF THEIR TIME ON ROMANCE ACADEMY?
We have seen a major increase in their:
They themselves have also noticed this, one young person quoted saying:
“Romance Academy has taught me that being different is okay and that I can trust others with things.”
The connection between the group grew, especially with events such as social nights and The Graduation. These really allowed the chance for the group, both leaders and young people, to get to know each other and build up links that we are sure will last long beyond the academy.
WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
For us it was key to ensure that young people built trust and felt that they could open up with one another, so we made the decision at the beginning to make commitment a big part of our academy. This meant one of the hardest parts was when, a few weeks in, new young people were turning up as they had heard about it from their friends. What we had to do was ask them leave.
But we made sure that they knew that we would be running another academy soon!
WHAT WERE YOUR HIGHLIGHTS?
By far it has been getting to know the young people better and seeing them grow in self-confidence and have more self-awareness about who they are. To see their respect for each other grow, their belief in themselves and their abilities. This has been evident as we have moved through the weeks.
“It has given me the confidence in myself, be able to talk to people about sex.”
We also really wanted to push the boat out for The Graduation, so we asked each young person to invite friends and family and get dressed up. We then prepared a sit down meal, a photographer and certificates. This resulted in a great evening celebrating all of their success.
SO... WOULD YOU RUN A ROMANCE ACADEMY AGAIN?
Most definitely – we already have young people who want to sign up as well as some of the current graduates who want to help lead.
Want to have a story like Jo and Rob's? All you need to do is get trained and get going!