Sexuality Education Program Prevents Violence and Improves Health Outcomes Using Dance, Body Positivity and Values-Based Learning
In honor of National Foster Care Awareness Month in May, Pendleton Place announces the graduation of eight of its teen foster care residents from The Rose Model for Healthy Relationships program, an interactive approach that integrates dance and movement into a trauma-informed, research-based and sex-positive curriculum to build healthy selves, relationships and sexuality.
Through its Smith House program, Pendleton Place provides a supportive home environment, life skills training, civic engagement and educational services to teen girls who will age out of foster care. In seeking to prepare these vulnerable youth for successful, independent living, the nonprofit organization acknowledges the need for increased sexual health education. While South Carolina ranks 43rd in the U.S. for sexual health, with the 6th worst rate of domestic violence, 7th highest rate of sexually transmitted infections and 11th highest teen birth rate, foster care youth have higher rates of negative sexual health outcomes than the general population.
According to the Professional Learning Standards for Sex Education (PLSSE), the newest national set of standards designed to help improve educators’ ability to effectively address sexuality, “Quality sex education goes beyond information by providing young people with opportunities to explore their own values and the values of their families and communities. It also allows young people to practice the communication, negotiation, decision-making, and assertiveness skills they need to create healthy relationships—both sexual and nonsexual— throughout their lives.”
In this light, Pendleton Place partnered with The Rose Model for Healthy Relationships to complement its sexuality education and support services for youth in congregate care.
“We found this program to be forward-thinking and unique in its combination of education and holistic, mind-body learning methods enhanced by violence prevention and healthy relationship training,” said Jed Dews, Executive Director of Pendleton Place. “In lieu of receiving limited, fear-based information that does not mirror their lived experiences, our teens thrive when they can have real conversations with adults they can trust. More than ever, the use of group foster care must be specialized for youth who are at risk of human trafficking and aging out; The Rose Model is a great fit for this population and emboldens our teens to take charge of their sexuality in sustainable and healthy ways.”
After completing a pilot program in 2018 with The Rose Model,100% of Pendleton Place’s teen participants agreed to the following statements:
“I have a better understanding of what makes for a healthy relationship now.”
“If I see a friend experiencing early warning signs of an unhealthy relationship, I feel more confident now that I can help them.”
“I learned something new about myself and what makes me unique during this program.”
“I have more tools now to help me decide about my own readiness for sexual activity with a partner.”
“I found this program to be helpful in preparing me for the next stage of my life and the decisions ahead of me.”
Following the pilot program, Pendleton Place’s efforts to educate and empower teens living in foster care were nationally recognized through a grant from The Patty Brisben Foundation for Women’s Sexual Health. This grant allowed Pendleton Place to expand delivery of the Rose Model program in 2019 and increase one-on-one interventions as well as staff training.
The Rose Model aims to heal, empower, and ignite the lives and dreams of teens and adults through movement and education. Its founder Lori Rose, a survivor of sexual and intimate partner violence herself, became a sexual health educator and built the program after years of work raising awareness to end violence and abuse and build healthy relationships. She also saw how her experience integrating movement, dance and coaching with education helped teens and adults increase their confidence and connection skills. Rose customized a curriculum for Pendleton Place to give its teen residents accessible tools for healing past traumas and patterns, approaching sexuality holistically, and building sexual self-efficacy and thoughtful decision-making skills.
“When I set out to help end violence and abuse, something called me to start on the preventative side,” Rose said. “I quickly learned that if I was going to talk with people in the most real ways about healthy relationships, I needed to also address sexuality. Young adults often tell me that personal wellbeing, relationships and sexual health were segmented topics in their lives, and we aim to weave these together in approachable ways, to help people manage their own health and build supportive connections in alignment with their values.”
By being trauma-informed and connecting the realities of sexuality with safe, healthy interpersonal dynamics, Pendleton Place believes this partnership with The Rose Model and The Patty Brisben Foundation is another key step in its goal of protecting, equipping and healing young adults with the tools they need to build stable home environments and bright futures.
The Rose Model for Healthy Relationships program outcomes can perhaps best be expressed by a recent teen graduate, who shared, “Thank you for giving me a chance to become a better me and allowing me to love myself in a way I was never able to.”
Pendleton Place is an Upstate South Carolina nonprofit organization offering programs that protect, heal and equip vulnerable children and families hurt by abuse and neglect. Pendleton Place strengthens these children while rebuilding families, with the goal of creating a stable home environment and bright future for each child served. Founded in 1975, last year the organization made a positive impact in the lives of over 550 individuals and more than 280 families. For more information visit www.pendletonplace.org or call 864-467-3650.
The Rose Model is a socially-driven education, coaching and training provider with a mission to heal, empower and ignite people’s lives. Its interactive programs integrate dance and movement into a trauma-informed, research-based and sex-positive curriculum to build healthy selves, relationships and sexuality. Founder Lori Rose has spoken on stages throughout the U.S., sharing her own transformational truth and the Rose Model for Healthy Relationships programs with campuses, employers and organizations, with the ultimate goal of freeing people to share their unique gifts with the world. For more information, visit www.therosemodel.com.