The Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto regularly offers Our Whole Lives (OWL), one of the best age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education programs available.

About the OWL curriculum
How our OWL program works
Upcoming OWL classes including permission forms and other info

OWL for gr. K-1 and gr. 6-4
OWL for gr. 7-9
OWL for gr. 10-12
OWL for adults


About the OWL curriculum

Our Whole Lives (OWL) is a series of comprehensive and age-appropriate sexuality education curricula, developed jointly by the Unitarian Universalist Association and United Church of Christ, for six age groups: grades K-2, grades 4-6, grades 7-9, grades 10-12, young adults, and adults.

Our Whole Lives is based on the philosophy of comprehensive sexuality education, which helps participants make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior. It equips participants with accurate, age-appropriate information in six subject areas: human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture. Grounded in a holistic view of sexuality, comprehensive sexuality education provides not only facts about anatomy and human development, but also helps participants to clarify their values, build interpersonal skills, and understand the spiritual, emotional, social, and political aspects of sexuality as well.

Comprehensive sexuality education has been shown to be effective. A review commissioned by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, released on October 22, 1997, concluded that quality education about sexuality and/or HIV helps to delay first intercourse and protect sexually active youth from STDs, including HIV, and from pregnancy. The review also concluded that responsible and safe behavior can be learned, that sexuality education is best started before the onset of sexual activity, and that sexuality education does not encourage increased sexual activity.

OWL Program Values (click to see a PDF of this handout).

OWL Program Assumptions and “Bill of Rights” (click to see a PDF of this handout).

In our parent orientation, we refer to the “Circles of Sexuality.” Here’s the PDF handout for this (click the image below to see a full-size PDF version):

Circles of Sexuality thumbnail

More details about the OWL program can be found online here: www.uua.org/re/owl


How our OWL program works

At UUCPA, our OWL program is run by a volunteer OWL Coordinator under the auspices of the Children and Youth Religious Education Committee. Maribea Berry has been our OWL coordinator for several years now, taking care of all the logistics of the OWL program. Maribea is a trained OWL leader herself, and both her children have been through the program.

OWL classes run at times that have proved to be convenient for the participants. OWL for grades 4-6 and grades K-2 is offered Sunday mornings at 11:00 a.m. (in 2011 and 2013), and OWL for grades 7-9 is offered on Sunday evenings (in 2010, 2012 and 2014). The goal is to ensure that all children are offered the opportunity to attend each OWL session when they reach the appropriate grades.

We draw from an amazing pool of volunteer teachers within our congregation, including R.N.s, M.D.s, therapists, and classroom teachers — and some of our best OWL teachers are ordinary parents whose own children have gone through the OWL program. Many of our volunteers complete the fifteen hour OWL training, and all volunteers are trained and supported by our OWL coordinator and Associate Minister of Religious Education, who between them have over 30 years of experience supervising OWL programs.

We typically offer an optional parent discussion group at least twice during each OWL unit. Parent discussion groups take place while children are in OWL, and are facilitated by a volunteer. Our volunteer facilitators have included social workers and other experts.

We welcome participants from outside our congregation, and at times as many as a third of participants have not been affiliated with our congregation. Outside participants must be comfortable with our values (e.g., we support equal rights for women and girls, we support same-sex marriage rights, and we support the right to abortion). Because of generous contributions from our members, there is no fee for our OWL programs, and we supply textbooks and other materials to participants at no charge. However, we encourage all OWL families who can afford to do so to make a generous tax-deductible contribution to UUCPA, so that we can continue to offer these programs regardless of family financial status.


Upcoming OWL classes

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OWL for gr. K-1
OWL for gr. 4-6

OWL gr. K-1 will be offered in 2018-2019.
OWL gr. 4-6 will next be offered in 2019-2020.
When offered in the same year, both classes follow the same schedule.

Please watch the CYRE newsletter for the latest information about these programs.

Time and Location: OWL for gr. K-1 is offered on Sunday mornings at 11:00 a.m., from January through March.

Enrollment: If you would like to enroll your child in this class, all custodial parents must attend the parent orientation. Please plan your family schedule so that your child will not miss any classes; due to the nature of the program, if your child is absent for more than one week, we may drop them from enrollment.

Orientation session: A mandatory parent orientation to the OWL program is scheduled for January 13, 2019. All custodial parents must attend and sign permission form. If you are new to OWL, or new to UUCPA, ALL custodial parents must attend this session (no exceptions).

Cost: There is no cost for the program; we are committed to making this program available to all families regardless of financial situation. For those who are financially able to do so, we would be happy to accept your tax deductible donation so that we can continue to offer OWL.

Parent Room: Parents are required to stay on campus while class is in session. A room with wifi will be made available for parents who need a place to wait (ask for the access code).

OWL gr. K-1 leaders in 2018-2019:

Coordinators & Teachers: TBA

Schedule for 2018-2019: 

OWL K-1 Parent Orientation Meeting – 12/09/2018 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
OWL K-1 Parent/Child Introductory Meeting – 01/13/2019 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
OWL K-1 Meeting – 01/27/2019 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
OWL K-1 Meeting – 02/03/2019 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
OWL K-1 Meeting – 02/10/2019 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
OWL K-1 Meeting – 02/24/2019 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
OWL K-1 Meeting – 03/03/2019 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
OWL K-1 Meeting – 03/10/2019 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
OWL K-1 Meeting – 03/17/2019 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
OWL K-1 Meeting – 03/24/2019 at 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Parent letter:
If you are on our mailing list, you will received a copy of the parent letter, usually sent out in the late autumn.

Permission forms:
OWL 4-6 parent commitment form (PDF)
OWL 4-6 parent choices form (PDF)
OWL K-1 parent commitment form (PDF)
OWL K-1 parent choices form (PDF)

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OWL for gr. 7-9

This unit of OWL was offered in 2017-2018 and will not be offered in 2018-2019.

Time and Location: Meetings take place on Sunday evenings, 5-8 p.m., beginning in late January. The longer meeting time allows us to complete OWL between January and May, to better accommodate the busy schedules of our families. See schedule below. All sessions meet at the UU Church of Palo Alto.

Enrollment: If you would like to enroll your child in this class, all custodial parents must attend the parent orientation. All custodial parents must also attend the orientation for the visuals. Please plan your family schedule so that your child will not miss any classes; due to the nature of the program, if your child is absent for more than one week, we may drop them from enrollment.

Orientation sessions: There will be two orientation sessions for parents/guardians:

Cost: There is no cost for the program; we are committed to making this program available to all families regardless of financial situation. For those who are financially able to do so, we would be happy to accept your tax deductible donation so that we can continue to offer OWL.

Parent Activities: For parents who wish to stay on campus during the sessions, a room will be open and available for your use during the Sunday evening sessions (this room has free wifi, just ask for the password when you arrive). In addition, there will be parent discussion sessions, open to all parents with teens in the program (dates to be determined).

Grade 7-9 OWL permission form (PDF)
Grade 7-9 OWL permission form (Visuals) (PDF)

Evaluation forms:

OWL gr. 7-9 Parent Evaluation form (PDF)
OWL gr. 7-9 Participant Evaluation form (PDF)

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OWL for gr. 10-12

We offered the gr. 10-12 unit of the OWL comprehensive sexuality education program in 2016-2017. We expect to offer OWL gr. 10-12 again in either 2018-2019, or in 2019-2020, depending on demand.

To accommodate the packed schedules of busy high school students, the program will meet once a month on Sunday evenings (see schedule below).  Although we will not be able to fit in all sessions of this curriculum, we will be sure to meet the interests of the youth participants.

There will be a mandatory parent meeting on Sun., August 26, 2018 at 6:30. The other dates of the course are listed below.  This year’s teachers will include Kevin Bourillion, experienced OWL teacher, Audrey Erbes, trained OWL teacher and retired social worker, and Robert Neff, trained OWL teacher and former SHYG advisor.

If you would like your child to participate in OWL gr. 10-12, please be sure to have at least one parent attend the parent orientation on Sunday, Aug. 26. (Both parents should plan to attend if no child in your family has taken either the gr. 7-9 or the gr. 10-12 unit of OWL before.) We expect this course to fill to capacity this year, so if you can’t make the meeting be sure to email Dan danharper.uucpa@gmail.com BEFORE the meeting.

This program is open to the community, as well as to UUCPA families. Feel free to invite your friends.

Adult leaders for OWL gr. 10-12 in 2018-2019:
Rev. Dan Harper, trained OWL leader (more than 20 years OWL experience)
Additional teachers are TBA.
We are also scheduling a few guests with expertise in human sexuality and relationships.

2018-2019 Tentative Schedule:

OWL 10-12 – 12/09/2018 at 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
OWL 10-12 – 01/13/2019 at 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
OWL 10-12 – 02/10/2019 at 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
OWL 10-12 – 03/10/2019 at 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
OWL 10-12 – 04/07/2019 at 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
OWL 10-12 – 05/05/2019 at 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
OWL 10-12 – 06/02/2019 at 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

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OWL for young adults
OWL for adults

At present, we do not offer OWL for young adults (ages 18-35), or for adults.