Next Step Program
My personal development programs are designed to improve each person's unique identity, assist in developing their talents and potential, enhance the individual's quality of life and inspire them to reach for their dreams. For the past 20 years as a teacher and life coach, I have helped seniors, youth, teens and adults to:
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What is the REAL (Relationship Education and Leadership) Essentials Teaching the skills and strategies of developing healthy relationships and healthy lives?
REAL Essentials is: Life, Love and Leadership Training
The Need for Life, Love and Leadership Skills
The non-marital child bearing rate in this country is now 41 percent and rising. The vast majority of those dealing with the oppressive effects of poverty are single parent households. It is harder and harder to raise children now as the media and cultural influences are more and more pervasive. Single parents do a heroic job but need assistance and support. According to the data, of the children born to married couples, half of those marriages will end in divorce leaving many children bewildered and hurt. Of the couples who do stay together, many are models of unhealthy relationships filled with unresolved conflict, tension and emotional isolation. Something is NOT working! Our children are growing up in the midst of fractured families and dysfunctional relationships. This is affecting far more than their performance at school. Today's students are questioning their own abilities to experience a fulfilling lifelong committed marriage. They are even wondering about the value of marriage altogether. They have seen enough drama and dysfunction. What they need is an opportunity to discover, dream about and learn how to have a healthy lifelong lasting committed satisfying relationship. Young people with the fun interactive activities throughout the curriculum,
The REAL Essentials program educates, equips, empowers and encourages students to learn about themselves and others, about the basics of friendship, love, communication, creative problem solving, decision making, negotiation, conflict resolution, relationship development skills, media literacy, navigating peer pressure job skills and future orientation planning for life and love success. Research indicates that family structure matters to child health and health and well-being. Healthy married bio mom or dad or adoptive couples seem to have children who are healthier and have access to health care.
REAL Essentials is not about just imparting information. According to Dr. Reed Tuckson, M.D., chief medical officer for United Health Group, who spoke at a plenary session at the American School Health Association Conference, information alone does not change behavior. What does change behavior is being motivated, inspired, captivated, encouraged, mentored and having an emotional connection and skill set for that which one desires to change. He said, "We as health educators must increase the concept of the possibility of a meaningful future by addressing issues of the heart." The best-selling book Drive by Daniel Pink outlines what motivates humans. Most believe the rewards and punishment theory is accurate for low level cognitive tasks. When the tasks require more cognitive executive functioning, however, rewards and punishment are not effective motivators.
According to the research, there are three motivating factors:
The Uniqueness of REAL Essentials
This curriculum leads young people away from high risk behaviors by teaching toward something they desire and something they can say yes to. It is overwhelmingly positive with many opportunities to start over no matter what behaviors student has already been involved in.
The Strategy of REAL Essentials
REAL Essentials teaches to the concrete nature of adolescent brain development rather than the abstract thinking of adults. It takes into account the many different learning styles of students and integrates elements of interactivity and fun to make the lessons memorable. Psychologist Erik Erikson identified a series of developmental pathways that a child must progress through on his or her way to maturity. Erikson defines the teenager stage as "The Genital Stage," where direct sexual energies are reawakened. It is at this stage of development when boys and girls recognize developmental differences and gender identity issues.
In his research, Erikson encourages parents and trusted adults to do a number of things, including:
As you will quickly notice by browsing through a few exercises, REAL Essentials has implemented many of these guiding concepts into its approach to help teachers be as effective as possible in leading their students through this stage toward maturation. A tremendous amount of effort is dedicated to equipping teachers to maximize their effectiveness. The Center for Relationship Education recommends that educators first secure training, professional development and certification. Thousands of teachers across the country have already received such training.
The Constructs and Framework of REAL Essentials
There are nine underlying themes that form the foundation of the REAL Essentials curriculum. These are concepts the curriculum strives to explain and instill in each student:
For the Community
Impart Knowledge and Information
REAL Essentials integrates the key parts of effective programs, such as:
REAL Essentials has been using a pre- and post-test with positive results of change in attitude, knowledge and intent. Based on pre post preliminary results, the initial assessment of the REAL Essentials curriculum highlights immediate impact among participating youth as demonstrated by percentage increases and statistically significant favorable shifts ranging from 4.2% to 22.8% with p values <.01%.
In Weld County, Former Colorado County Commissioner David Long, former president of the Colorado Health and Human Services Commissioner Board, investigated the effectiveness of the REAL Essentials program with the research team at the Weld County Department of Health. The written conclusion states; "Weld County's teen fertility rate has decreased by 25% since 2000 with the implementation of the Weld WAITs program." This data was taken from the Colorado State Health Department 2009 profile for Weld County, Colorado.
Nationally, a version of REAL Essentials has shown effectiveness in two recent evaluations, one published and one unpublished. The first published study commenced in Miami, Florida under the direction of Project U-turn incorporating materials from the REAL Essentials curriculum (2004) targeting African American and Hispanic youth located in neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of teen pregnancy and STIs. The program was implemented in school and church settings. Some initial findings demonstrate that youth who were sexually active before the program indicated an increase in their ability and skills to return to a risk avoidance choice and remain committed to not having sex while they are a teen. "For youth who have had sexual intercourse prior to the program, McNemar's change test compared the percentage that had sexual intercourse within the last three weeks at pretest and post-test. At post-test, there was a significant reduction in the number of students that had sexual intercourse within the last three weeks from 31 to 19 (26.2% to 16.2%, McNemar test, p=.020). Of the 19 youth that had sexual intercourse within the last three weeks at post-test, 17 (89.4%) used a condom or other form of contraception."(Journal of Youth Ministry, Vol 8, No. 1, Fall 2009).
Additionally, an unpublished evaluation in Earle, Arkansas was set up as a quasi-experimental design using a matched comparison group in the 2008-2009 school year with the cohort receiving a version of the REAL Essentials curriculum. The two initial findings stated, "The program did not demonstrate statistically significant impacts on sexual initiation rates. The program did make significant reductions in sexual activity and multiple partners." The REAL Essentials curriculum has been studied and evaluated with moderate to high successful findings but not in a rigorous randomized control group evaluation. Additional information is available upon request.
REAL Essentials is in alignment and compliance with 10 important standards:
1. Social Cognitive Theory
Albert Bandura's social cognitive learning theory suggests that humans can learn through observation without imitating the observed behavior. He also states that humans can learn from behaviors indirectly or directly by observing behaviors and the consequences of those behaviors. The theory suggests that a combination of behavioral, cognitive and environmental factors influence behavior. Bandura suggests that observational or social learning focuses on four component processes needed to model and learn behavior-attention, retention, behavior production and motivation. Attention states that one must attend to the main components of the modeled behavior in order to learn from observation. Retention states that in order for an individual to learn from a behavior, one must remember the modeled behavior. One must remember the behavior imaginably or verbally. Imaginably means that pictures or mental images serve as symbols of the behavior. Verbally means that the behavior is captured by words. Behavior production is putting the observation into action. One takes the actions observed and uses it to gradually adjust to fit the model. Motivation suggests that people are more likely to adopt a new behavior if it indicates it will result in a positive outcome. Observers believe that if the modeled behavior has received reinforcement, they will most likely receive reinforcement as well. Reinforcement gives an incentive for putting observation into action.
2. Theory of Planned Behavior
The Theory of Planned Behavior is a theory about the link between attitudes and behavior. It was proposed by Icek Ajzen as an extension of the theory of reason and is one of the most predictive persuasion theories. It has been applied to studies outlining the relationship among beliefs, attitudes, behavioral intentions and behaviors in various fields such as advertising, public relations, advertising campaigns and healthcare. It involves utilizing what students believe, the influence of others and the confidence to act according to their perception of norms, consequences, skill set and affirmation of their behavior.
3. Social Inoculation Theory
Social Inoculation Theory was developed by social psychologist William J. McGuire in 1961 to explain more about how attitudes and beliefs change, and more importantly, how to keep original attitudes and beliefs consistent in the face of persuasion attempts. In this educational method, the educator inoculates the student with scenarios about what is happening or what will happen so that when that event or scenario actually takes place the student has the skills to resist the pressure therefore resisting the persuasion and the behavior.
4. Social Norms Theory
Social Norms Theory states that much of people's behavior is influenced by their perception of how other members of their social group behave. If students think that their peer group is engaging in high risk behaviors, they are more likely to also engage in that type of behavior.
5. Behavioral Change Theory
There are five cyclical components to the Behavior Change Theory:
Community vs. School Curriculum
REAL Essentials was developed utilizing age-appropriate guidelines.
What Is a Community Saturation Approach?
A community saturation approach is defined by the service or product being utilized or delivered in multiple settings in the community. This is necessary because the schools have so many demands on their time and they are being asked to do more with less money, less resources and less time. In order to change the culture of the community and to have wrap around prevention services and messages to our children, we must have an all hands on deck mentality.
What Is the SMARTool?
Through a cooperative agreement with the Division of Adolescent School Health (DASH) in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Center for Relationship Center developed the Systematic Method for Assessing Risk-avoidance Tool (SMARTool). The SMARTool helps assess risk-avoidance sexuality education curriculum for alignment with the following targets which have been found to help students delay sexual debut.
The Center for Relationship Education's Mission
The Center for Relationship Education exists to train individuals to live and love well.
For more information visit www.myrelationshipcenter.org or call (720) 488-8888.