Let’s Talk About Sex!

29 Apr

By Holly Gillespie, MotherLove Coordinator

MotherLove tried something new for our most recent Evening Group Session: we handed the design, planning, and facilitation of the session over to our Alumni.  It was a resounding and inspirational success!

MotherLove Alumni at a feedback meeting with MotherLove staff in November, 2014

MotherLove Alumni at a feedback meeting with MotherLove staff in November, 2014

The MotherLove Alumni Committee consists of MotherLove Graduates who have completed high school, but wish to remain active in the program.  At the close of last school year, several graduates expressed a desire to “give back” to MotherLove. They told us they felt the program made a huge difference in their lives and they wanted to help make that difference for young women who are still in high school and just beginning their journey into motherhood.  Thus, the Alumni Committee was born.

When the time came to make plans for an Evening Group Session on the topic of sex, the Alumni Committee convened to take on the challenge.  There were many unanimous agreements during our planning session:

-the conversation needed to feel relevant and valuable to the teen moms and dads,

-adult volunteers would be a welcome addition to the group dynamic, and

-whereas many women can articulate that they alone are the masters of their bodies, many women lack the skill set to assert their personal boundaries and preferences.

This last point drove the remainder of the conversation, for how can an individual protect his/her body from STI’s or unplanned pregnancy without the skills to assert their boundaries and preferences?

MotherLove participants at the MotherLove holiday gathering, 2014

MotherLove participants at the MotherLove holiday gathering, 2014

The Alumni ultimately chose to facilitate several small group discussions centered around 7 composed questions.  The questions ranged from ,”how does having a baby affect your sex life?” to “what if you love someone who cheats on you?”  The goal was to engage all who were present in meaningful, self-reflective conversation driven by an undercurrent of self-advocacy and empowerment.

The result was astounding.  Three courageous young women, all fresh out of high school last year, facilitated small group discussions for a mixed age audience on a tremendously sensitive, personal, and often taboo subject.  Each group created an atmosphere of support and confidentiality that made room for teens and adults to share deeply.  MotherLove staff also facilitated a small group for dads. They, too, were open, vulnerable, and reflected on the material in a meaningful way. The evening was truly inspiring.

The success of the evening offers new territory to be explored in MotherLove’s Group Session planning and design. Empowerment means placing power in someone’s hands.  If it is teen moms whom we wish to empower, then it is in their hands that we must place power.  MotherLove’s Alumni Committee continues to grow with each new, motivated graduate.  Their wisdom and perspective will continue to be sought as we aim to foster leadership and self-advocacy in this new generation of young women.

The MotherLove program is made possible with support from the NC Dept Health and Human Services – Women’s Health Branch – Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, Bank of America, Walnut Cove Association, Buncombe County Services Foundation, Duke Progress, TD Bank, YWCA donors, and the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County.

For more information, contact Holly Gillespie, coordinator of MotherLove, by email at holly.gillespie@ywcaofasheville.org or by calling 828-254-7206 x 104.

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