UNIQUE resource on relationships for 11 to 13-year-olds

Friday June 4th 2010

At the launch of UNIQUE are, from left: Bryan Nelson, Dr Bernadette Cullen, Ann Marie McClure, Dr Naresh Chada and Sharon Hamill.UNIQUE, a resource developed to support young people aged 11-13 with regard to relationships and sexuality was launched on Wednesday June 2.

The Faith Sub Group of the Belfast Area Sexual Health Project Board (supported by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust), worked with faith-based groups to develop a user-friendly leaflet encouraging young people to consider themselves to be ‘one of a kind’.

It offers a unique take on relationships and sexuality education, combining health, faith and the views of young people themselves – with the aim of helping young people reach their potential.

Pioneering dialogue across agencies and faith-based groups – from the four largest Christian denominations and those from other faiths – began regarding young people facing the pressing issues of relationships, sexual health and faith.

Through commitment and collaboration by a hard-working team, UNIQUE was developed, offering a value-based, consistent message to young people. Its design is user friendly, giving young people the opportunity to explore topics of interest, but equally it can be used by a parent, teacher, carer, guardian or youth worker.

The resource has the potential to create discussion around various topics as young people themselves explore how they can make choices in relationships, as they embark on adolescence.

Sharon Hamill, co-chair of the group and a Church of Ireland representative, said: “Every young person is valuable, their life full of potential and they each have something to contribute to society.

“The sense of value and potential can at times seem very limited for many young people in Northern Ireland as they face challenges in growing up, making choices, moving through adolescence and especially in the area of relationships and sexuality. This resource is as timely as it is handy and inviting to use.”

Sharon added: “Many organisations, agencies and youth groups exist to support young people, their parents, carers and others that work with young people to help them reach their potential in spite of pressure.

“Youth work in the faith-based arena is growing and is offering substantial support to young people throughout Northern Ireland.  In 2005 it was established that 68 per cent  of registered youth groups in Northern Ireland were church based.’ [Youthlink]. We hope this resource becomes part of the process in helping young people to reach their potential.”

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