Tonight we had the third and final part of “No Sex Please We’re Teenagers” on BBC2.
Although the programme closed with the graduation of the initial twelve young people, at the same time it was also a beginning, with the first meeting of a new group, and also showing visits into local schools to talk about the project.
The first part of the programme tonight was a sequence with one of the weekly meetings, taking place a month before the end of the project. Watching this I realised that in the earlier shows we hadn’t really been given a chance to see the group discussions – the kind of thing we do week by week with our youth group. What it did highlight is how well the group as a whole worked together, and the excellent relationship that Dan and Rachel had with the group. In the same way as any group you had some real outgoing personalities, and some quiet ones, Jenine being one that makes a big impression.
In fact, following on from last week, there were many more examples of how attached Dan and Rachel had become to the group over the four months, and the group had become attached to Dan and Rachel. However there was a funny moment, a real put the youth leader in their place moment, when Byron and Grace were asked about leading the next group and said it was better as everybody was around the same age – Dan and Rachel were just so old! (It actually mirors a discussion we’ve been having about how the Youth Leaders at St James are seen.)
We again saw the group meeting outside, this week including being taught Salsa dancing, where everybody seemed to have a great time. There was also an interesting sequence in the light of the discussions about teenagers and hoodies, where some of the group were taken along to a fashion expert and shown how what they wear affects how they are percieved.
Of the new group, we saw the first meeting, and also a longer sequence with one of the girls in the new group, who had a long term boyfriend to whom she had lost her virginity aged 14, and she was now worried that he was only interested in her for the sex. Having signed the pledge she then phoned him and told him what she had done. Whilst it looked like it might be curtains for the relationship at that point, with the boyfriend having problems with it, the programme caught up with her after the end of her pledge, to find that the period without sex had allowed them to get to know each other better, and ultimately strengthened the relationship.
Towards the end of the programme we saw what was possibly one of the hardest parts for the group, which was one of the last meetings, where it was confession time – had the members of the group stuck to their pledges. As Dan and Rachel explained to the group, many people watching would automatically assume that a bunch of teenagers couldn’t possibly really stick to the pledge. In a fairly tense moment for everybody involved, four of the group admitted that they had broken the pledge. However what is massively important is that because they knew that they would not be judged, and that they were loved and cared for by the group whatever they had done, they were able to admit their mistake, and move on. As was later highlighted at the ‘graduation’ they were being honoured for what they had achieved, the way they had grown. The fact that they made mistakes getting there was irrelevant.
Looking further afield, we saw changes in Dan and Rachel as well. Whilst initially the plan was for them to go back to their previous jobs at the end of the project, the success of the group has inspired them to go on, and we saw two of their school visits, one of which resulted in 100 young people wanting to become involved.
So as I said, an end, but also a beginning. The project moving forward can be found online at http://www.romanceacademy.org.