I’ve just finished watching the second part of “No Sex Please We’re Teenagers“, having taped it tonight. In a strange coincidence we were due to meet tonight with the other Youth Group leaders to plan the schedule at St James.
Anyway, my initial reaction was a lot better than the way I reacted last week, perhaps because since then I’ve read various of the discussions and comments on the first programme, but also partly because of a subtle change in emphasis.
Although the young people still played a large role in tonights episode, you saw a lot more of Dan and Rachel, and also a lot more of some of the questions that as youth leaders you often ask. Questions like whether you are doing the right thing, covering a topic in the right way and so on. In light of my concerns with the whole US experience in last weeks programme, it was particularly reassuring seeing both Dan and Rachel being concerned about the effect of the Silver Ring Thing, and also, even though they wanted them to take the pledge, they were still concerned that they were doing it for the right reasons, rather than being carried away with the whole experience.
The results of the group attending the Silver Ring Thing show were interesting, the founder of the movement made some interesting comments about the difference between “US faith” and “UK faith”, which partially explains the generally negative reaction I’ve found to what the programme has shown of the US abstinence movement. Although the whole week long trip had a profound effect on the group it certainly re-enforces the differences in what The Romance Academy is doing in Harrow. It is also great to see how much the young people have been noticeably changed by the project.
It was interesting watching the young people deal with the simulated babies – reminding me of what happened with a couple of our Youth Group members when they did a similar task with their school. The simulated baby was brought along to Church, and kept in the pew – until it started crying that is! It was also really great to see the results, totally the opposite to what was expected that the couple you’d expect to do well had taken the baby to a driving range, and had ‘killed’ the simulated baby, and the other couple scored 80%. However for all of them it re-enforced what a big commitment a baby will be.
Moving on, I was really impressed with the way that the young people from inner city Harrow dealt with the visit to Stowe. They managed to put over their position superbly. Of course the next sequence when they were asked to do the same shows that in some ways presenting to strangers is a lot easier that presenting the same message to your friends.
The final scenes, where the attempt to form a second group was covered were also interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly we got to hear from one of the parents, a mother who I’m sure thought that she’d brought up her children, and been absolutely shocked and upset, having found out that her daughter was having sex with a boy who lived on the same street. The second interesting moment was the first meeting, where you got a classic example of how difficult working with teenagers can be, and how a few difficult young people can disrupt everything for everyone else. From the point of view of a Church youth group you really don’t want to stop anybody from coming, but at the same time you know that the rest of the group will suffer if you don’t. A classic quandary.
All in all I was much happier with part two, and the really positive effect the project has had on these twelve young people. We’re now really looking forward to part three next week.
If you want more information about the Romance Academy project, they have the beginnings of a website at http://www.romanceacademy.org/.