Posted on 13 November 2015 by Rachel
“SHOW THEM A DIFFERENT WAY”
13 November 2015
The Romance Academy Experience - From a youth worker perspective
"Show them a different way."
We got in touch with Zoe, one of the many youth workers who has been trained up to lead her own Romance Academies. We asked her to share why she believes in Romance Academy and what her experience has been like - enjoy!
As the founders of Romance Academy shared, I felt a tug at my heart and a sense of sadness came over me. What they were saying was true. Young people are growing up in a world that says what you look like is more important than your heart, what you feel determines your actions and who you're with or not with (in the romantic sense) proves your popularity.
It became clear in that moment. These were lies. . .
. . . lies that had taken a hold of a generation of young people, screaming louder than ever before through the hundreds of adverts they would see each day, the songs they would hear, the TV shows they would watch and the magazines they would read, bombarding their brains with nonsense - with lies. No wonder sadness had crept over me.
"Show them a different way."
I remember these words, they stood out to me and in an instant I felt a hope that over powered my sadness for our young people. I was sitting in a room with several other youth leaders, no doubt feeling the same way. We were listening to the founders of Romance Academy share what young peple are up against in regards to relationships, sex and self-esteem. Yet they spoke with faith and hope as they had decided to not sit back and do nothing. They had come up with a radical idea. One in which I was convinced by straight away. One in which positively impacted the way I do youth work from that moment on.
That was 7 years ago.
Since then we at Wirral Youth For Christ have had the privilege of being trained and licenced by Romance Academy to deliver their 12 week holistic relationship and sex education course here on Wirral. We have worked with roughly 140 young people over 14 Romance Academies, 7 in local secondary schools and 7 in out of school settings. Why are we so committed to delievering them? Because we believe it works. Not just because of the 12 week programme and the activities in the course (although they are fantastic) but because of its values. It seeks to create a supportive peer group where young people can feel safe to share their thoughts and opinions without the fear of being judged.
"I wanted more confidence and to be more open and be able to speak about things with others...I think it has gone well." Male 17
Romance Academy is less about teaching a programme and more about facilitating. . .
. . . through creating a safe space for young people to explore together some of the big challenges life can throw at them growing up. It is not a course just about sex but a course that actively seeks to model what healthy, loving relationships (both romantic and unromantic) should be.
"I have gained more knowledge and understanding of what a healthy relationship actually is and greater value of myself." Female 16
We have seen many young lives impacted by Romance Academy on Wirral. Not necessarily because of what we have taught them, but because together they have helped each other be courages enough to challenge casual and damaging attitudes towards relationships, sex and self worth - to stand out from the crowd and not following unhealthy relationship norms.
"RA has been a major turning point in life. I used to think everything was about self-image but I have learnt that with your friends it doesn't matter what you look like, you can get through most things." Male 16
It has been our job as leaders to help facilitate this process to the best of our abilities. At Wirral we have done this through shining light on the lies, sharing our own personal experiences of relationship struggles and successes and through showing them a different way when they feel they only have one option. As Christians, we believe God's way is the best and healthiest way to live out our relationships and in Romance Academy we give the young people space to come to their own conclusion about that.
If you are thinking about being trained to deliver Romance Academies in your area, I would encourage you to go for it! And may you, like us at Wirral YFC, see many young people transformed by the love and the truth they discover.
- Zoe Abernethy, Wirral YFC.