The first steps of Up2me, a global educational project that was requested by parents and youth leaders, to help children during their growing years; with support from Sophia University Institute.
The launching of this innovative project took place recently with the first “train the tutor course”. The course gathered a hundred people at the Focolare town of Loppiano, Italy from a variety of fields: teachers, psychologists, medical doctors and youth directors from eight European countries, Brazil, Argentina, India, Burkina Faso and Cameroon.
Many of them were parents or involved in child education. The prerequisite for acceptance into the course was that a man and a woman from the same region enroll together. The organisers suggested that it might be more beneficial if the topic of physical affection were presented to children and young adolescents by a man and a woman.
The project stems from cooperation between families, youth group leaders and experts from various fields within the framework of the Focolare, including scholars from Sophia University Institute, Loppiano. The purpose of the project is to provide a holistic program to adolescents, in which human sexuality is illuminated by a vision of the human person as someone in relationship, with his or her capacity to love and be loved, to give and to receive. The ones who are most pleased with the project are the parents who, in the face of the complexity of such topics, are feeling the need for updated tools. These were the assumptions that guided the group which came up with the content, phases and methodology of the course to create a moral conscience in the teenagers, which would help them to account for their choices and express them.
The trained tutors will begin operating in January 2016. There are already children in their countries who with their parents’ consent, are already planning on attending Up2me. The course will include twelve classes for three age groups: 9-11; 12-14; 15-17. It will examine the many dimensions of the human person (corporal, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, historical environment); and the lessons will range from knowledge of the human body to the concept of the human person; from stereotyped images in publicity and the media, to sexual identity; from managing emotions to conflict with parents; from dangerous behaviours, to the influence of Internet. Age appropriate dynamics (role play, video clips, life experiences) will be utilised to discuss bigger topics relate to the transmission of life, contraception, abortion, pornography. This will hopefully help the children in their relationship with themselves and in the discovery of the plan for their lives. Meetings and opportunities for collaboration are also scheduled for parents.
The course was tested by two pilot courses in Italy. The 2016 course will be a year-long experiment with the first group of children from other European countries. Meanwhile, experts from the continents of the world will translate and adapt the program to local needs. Based on that experience the course for tutors will be presented again so that Up2me can be taken to other regions of the world.