Culture of Intimacy Program

Overview

The Culture of Intimacy program is delivered by our facilitator to co-ed youth groups aged 13-20.  The program consists of 4 to 6 workshops, ranging from 1 to 2 hours each based on scheduling and group availabilities.

Delivered on premises, the program is primarily designed for an academic or para-curricular setting, but can be adapted to a wide range of structured groups in or out of school.

The primary goal of the workshops is to help youth gradually develop an better awareness of what respectful intimate relationships and encounters look like.  This is achieved by contextualizing human intimacy through discussions on topics including:

  • Why do people have intimate relations?
  • What do I need to think about when entering an intimate relation or encounter?
  • What are things that give me more or less power?
  • How does power impact how we relate to each other?
  • What is violence, and how do we recognize it?
  • When we see violence around us, what can we do?
  • Why is consent important, and how do we actually use it in our intimate relations or encounters?
  • How can we use communication more widely in our intimate relationships or encounters?
  • What are some ways to deal with rejection (because it will happen)?

These topics are explored through different activities designed to elicit feedback from participants, ultimately engaging them in a group discussion guided and supported by the facilitator.  The workshops are elicitive, not prescriptive – they are designed to help youth explore these topics together with a positive role-modelling facilitator, as opposed to being prescriptive in telling them how to think or act.

The facilitation style for the Culture of Intimacy program is inspired by techniques that have been developed for community conflict mediation, whereby participants are assisted in developing a new shared understanding of their situation based on open group discussion and learning: this is important because peer support has been shown to be one of the biggest determinants of youth behaviour.  This program has been designed so that participants gradually refine their awareness of what respectful intimacy looks like as a supportive group, and in the presence of adult role models to answer any questions and offer constructive feedback.

Another concept drawn from conflict mediation, and a crucial aspect of this program, is that the facilitator for these workshops is an outside neutral third party, one that comes in temporarily to assist participants, but who will not be seen again on a regular basis.  This can allow participants to be more open with their personal thoughts and experiences, and with testing or expressing new ideas.

Program Inception

The Culture of Intimacy program was created to give older youth and emerging adults (ages 13 – 20) the opportunity to discuss and learn about healthy expressions of intimacy.

Why now?

It was born from the observation that youth now commonly receive a majority of their information on intimate relations, sexual relations and role-modelling from online content.  More often than not, this content is pornography that routinely portrays aggressive and degrading acts; emerging adults are its largest consumers.  This media is freely available without providing any sort of context about power dynamics, consent, the importance of wanting and willing participants, and about the commercial nature of the industry behind the images they consume.

 

We try, but...

Parents and teachers seldom successfully discuss ways to behave respectfully in a sexual situation or relationship with their child, or what cultural norms surround modern sexual interactions.  Most youth just won’t open up to parents or teachers about sexual etiquette, self-care, or identifying and addressing healthy or unhealthy power imbalances in relationships.

It's only natural...

This is not the fault of teachers or parents: these are topics that touch on our private, intimate experiences, and both youth and the adults that surround them are understandably reluctant to talk about this aspect of their very private, inner lives.  But youth still need an opportunity to formulate and test their ideas about human intimacy, and to validate and challenge these ideas with peers and role models.  They need this opportunity to learn how to be well-adapted and kind members of society.

So how do we?...

An important part of the solution is to bring in a neutral third party facilitator for these workshops, not an adult that will be encountered regularly over the span of several years like a parent or teacher.  In this way, participants can be more open to exploring and sharing their personal thoughts and experiences, the cultural realities that they live in, and their personal aspirations.

Creating a Culture Shift Together

The Culture of Intimacy program has been designed to provide a much-needed counterbalance and context to the online media consumed by youth, and help future generations transform the way we think, talk and act in our intimate relations.

More on this issue:

BBC World News: "Girls go along with sex acts, says teacher"

BBC World News: "I didn't say no, but I regret that"

Book us now!

To find out more about how to book our program for your school or youth group, contact us today.