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Personal Development

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: Any sort of personal development requires a plan if one wishes to know how to make changes or how to deal with the changes that occur in their life. I provide feedback as the individual moves forward in their personal development. Some of the programs include:

Active Aging

Active Aging

REAL Essentials


Relationship Education and Leadership

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.      The goal of REAL Essentials is certainly to prevent the twin epidemics of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. It is also to reduce non-marital child bearing and poverty, as well as to increase the well-being of children and adults alike. It is about success sequencing, "First comes love; then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage." It is about deciding rather than sliding into a relationship. It is about being intentional, keeping your options open and learning the strategies for life and love success. It is about putting your oxygen mask on first before helping others. It is about learning the skills necessary to get smart with your heart. It is about reducing the drama so kids can learn. It is about getting adolescents to adulthood with the least amount of emotional baggage and hurt as possible.
     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:
  1. Autonomy (empowerment)
  2. Mastery (skill-building)
  3. Purpose (why are we doing this, "A Belief in a Meaningful and Promising Future" as stated by Dr. Tuckson)
     REAL Essentials uses these constructs to form and instruct this curriculum and is strategically crafted to inspire young people to live a life of character, self-regulation, patience and perseverance that will reap limitless benefits not only in relationship/family formation and maintenance, but in job performance, self-sufficiency and a meaningful and promising future.

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:
  1. The Value of Character / Leadership to Success
  2. The Value of Healthy Relationships
  3. The Value of Starting Over
  4. The Value of Future Orientation
  5. The Value of Possessing Skills to Say "No" Without Hurting Others
  6. The Value of Appreciating Others (Even if they are different)
  7. The Value of Healthy Lifetime Committed Relationships / Marriage
  8. The Value of Safe and Stable Family Structure to the Health and Well-Being of Children
  9. The Value of Healthy Choices, Impulse Control, Being Intentional, Personal Power and Self-Regulation and Success Sequencing
The Emphasis of REAL Essentials The Methodologies Used in REAL Essentials
For the Community
For the School For the Teacher For the Student The General Goals of REAL Essentials
Impart Knowledge and Information
Provide Skills Provide Affirmation Influence Behavior The Specific Measurable Goals of REAL Essentials The Behavioral Objectives of REAL Essentials The following tools can be used to measure the progress of reaching the specific goals and behavioral objectives of REAL Essentials: The Effectiveness and Evaluation of REAL Essentials
REAL Essentials
integrates the key parts of effective programs, such as:
  1. The focus on reducing sexual and other high risk behaviors
  2. Clear messages about early sexual activity and ensuing consequences
  3. Accurate information about risks
  4. building and tools to help students avoid sexual and other high risk behaviors
  5. Addressing social pressures and perceived social norms
  6. Addressing critical thinking skills around the media and cultural messages, as well as marketing campaigns targeting teens
  7. Teaching methods to involve participants and help personalize information
  8. Incorporation of behavioral goals, teaching methods and materials that are culturally competent, linguistically relevant, evidence based, age appropriate and medically accurate
  9. Lasting a sufficient length of time to complete important activities
  10. Selecting teachers or peers who believe in the program and then providing quality training and professional development opportunities for those individuals
  11. Continued professional development, technical assistance, support, follow up, monitoring and evaluation
  12. Showcases healthy marriage as the ideal family structure for future children based on research
  13. Includes a pledge and affirmation of commitment to abstain from alcohol, drugs, violent behaviors and non-committed sex
  14. Includes effects of drug and alcohol use on decision making
  15. Includes character, relationship, leadership skills and partner selection strategies
  16. Includes the social science in regard to what makes relationships succeed or fail
  17. Includes many messages about starting over
  18. Includes a parent component
  19. Includes instruction, strategies and training to be inclusive to all students
The Tested Effectiveness of REAL Essentials
     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. REAL Essentials meets the criteria for the new Colorado Health Education Guidelines and Standards.
  2. REAL Essentials is aligned with the 17 Characteristics of Effective Programs and the CDC Health Education Curriculum Analysis Tool (HECAT).
  3. REAL Essentials meets the CDC Sexual Health Guidelines as outlined in the Healthy Youth Sexual Health Guidelines Report which can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/sexualbehaviors/index.htm . This report states: School systems should make programs available that will enable and encourage young people who have not engaged in sexual intercourse and who have not used illicit drugs to continue to abstain from sexual intercourse until they are ready to establish a mutually monogamous relationship within the context of marriage. For young people who have engaged in sexual intercourse or who have injected illicit drugs, school programs should be able and encourage them to stop engaging in sexual intercourse until they are ready to establish a mutually monogamous relationship within the context of marriage. Any health information developed by the Federal Government that will be used for education should encourage responsible sexual behavior-based on fidelity, commitment and maturity, placing sexuality within the context of marriage. Any health information provided by the Federal Government that might be used in schools should teach that children should not engage in sex and should be used with the consent and involvement of parents.
  4. REAL Essentials is aligned with the 9 target areas found consistently in the adolescent health literature to help students delay sexual debut, which are:
    Target #1 - Enhance knowledge of:
         a) Physical development and sexual risks
         b) Personal relationships
    Target #2 - Support personal attitudes and beliefs that value sexual risk avoidance
    Target #3 - Improve perception of and independence from negative peer and social norms
    Target #4 - Build personal competencies and self-efficacy to refuse sex??
    Target #5 - Strengthen personal intention and commitment to avoid sexual involvement
    Target #6 - Identify and reduce the opportunities for sexual involvement
    Target #7 - Acknowledge and address common rationalizations for sexual involvement
    Target #8 - Strengthen future goals and opportunities
    Target #9 - Partner with parents
  5. REAL Essentials is aligned with the parameters of Colorado State Regulatory Guidelines, specifically HB 1292.
  6. REAL Essentials meets the criteria for the National Health Education Standards.
  7. REAL Essentials is aligned with the criteria for age appropriate messaging and cognitive development skill building, as well as positive youth development and asset-building approaches.
  8. REAL Essentials has been through a rigorous medical accuracy review from the United States Health and Human Services; Administration for Children and Families medical team and has been certified as medically accurate.
  9. REAL Essentials aligns with what most parents say they desire for their children (see "National Survey of Adolescents and Their Parents Report").
  10. REAL Essentials is designed on sound theoretical frameworks for child pedagogy and educational best practices.
     In addition, a version of GET REAL was evaluated by an independent educational evaluator whose preliminary findings are: ASSUMPTIONS OF REAL ESSENTIALS Principles Guiding This Curriculum REAL Essentials and Brain Engagement Strategies
    REAL Essentials is consistent with instructional strategies that engage the brain:
  1. Brainstorming and discussion
  2. Drawing and artwork
  3. Field trips
  4. Games
  5. Graphic organizers, semantic maps and word webs
  6. Humor
  7. Manipulatives, experiments, labs and models
  8. Metaphors, analogies and similes
  9. Mnemonic devices
  10. Movement
  11. Music, rhythm, rhyme and rap
  12. Project-based and problem-based instruction
  13. Reciprocal teaching and cooperative learning
  14. Role plays, drama, pantomimes and charades
  15. Storytelling
  16. Technology
  17. Visualization and guided imagery
  18. Visuals
  19. Work study and apprenticeships
  20. Writing and journals
  21. Source: Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites: 20 Instructional Strategies That Engage the Brain by Marcia Tate.
REAL Essentials and the Characteristics of Effective Health Education Curricula
    REAL Essentials adheres to all of the following aspects of an effective health education curricula:
  1. Focuses on specific-behavioral outcomes
  2. research-based and theory-driven.
  3. Addresses individual values and group norms that support health-enhancing behaviors.
  4. Focuses on increasing the personal perception of risk and harmfulness of engaging in specific health risk behaviors as well as reinforcing protective factors.
  5. Addresses social pressures and influences.
  6. Builds personal competence, social competence, and self-efficacy by teaching skills.
  7. Provides functional health knowledge that is basic and accurate, and directly contributes to health-promoting decisions and behaviors.
  8. Uses strategies designed to personalize information and engage students.
  9. Provides age and developmentally appropriate learning strategies, teaching methods and materials.
  10. Incorporates learning strategies, teaching methods, and materials that are culturally inclusive.
  11. Provides adequate time for instruction and learning.
  12. Provides opportunities to reinforce skills and positive health behaviors.
  13. Provides opportunities to make positive connections with others and to seek out support.
  14. Includes teacher information and plans for professional development and training that enhances effectiveness of instruction and student learning.
REAL Essentials and Characteristics of Effective Programs
    REAL Essentials aligns with 17 characteristics of effective programs:
  1. Involves multiple people with different backgrounds in theory, research and sexuality education to develop the curriculum.
  2. Assesses relevant needs and assets of target group.
  3. Uses a logic model approach to develop the curriculum that specifies the health goals, the behaviors affecting those health goals, the risk and protective factors affecting those behaviors and the activities addressing those risk and protective factors.
  4. Designs activities consistent with community values and available resources (e.g., staff time, staff skills, facility space and supplies).
  5. Pilot-tests the program.
  6. Focuses on clear health goals-the prevention of STD, HIV and/or pregnancy.
  7. Focuses narrowly on specific behaviors leading to these health goals (e.g., sexual risk avoidance or using condoms or other contraceptives), gives clear messages about these behaviors and addresses situations that might lead to them and how to avoid them.
  8. Addresses multiple sexual psychosocial risk and protective factors affecting sexual behaviors (e.g. knowledge, perceived risks, values, attitudes, perceived norms and self-efficacy).
  9. Creates a safe social environment for youth to participate.
  10. Includes multiple activities to change each of the targeted risk and protective factors.
  11. Employs instructionally sound teaching methods that actively involve the participants, that help participants personalize the information, and that are designed to change each group of risk and protective factors.
  12. Employs activities, instructional methods and behavioral messages that are appropriate to the youths' culture, developmental age and sexual experience.
  13. Covers topics in a logical sequence.
  14. Secures at least minimal support from appropriate authorities, such as departments of health, school districts or community organizations.
  15. Selects educators with desired characteristics (whenever possible), trains them and provides monitoring, supervision and support. If needed, implements activities to recruit and retain youth and overcome barriers to their involvement (e.g., publicized the program, offered food or obtained consent).
  16. Implements virtually all activities with reasonable fidelity.
  17. Source: "Tool to Assess the Characteristics of Effective Sex Education and STD/HIV Programs" by Dr. Douglas Kirby
Characteristics of REAL Essentials Learning Theories Used in the REAL Essentials Curriculum
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:
  1. Pre-contemplation
  2. Contemplation
  3. Preparation for Action
  4. Action
  5. Maintenance
     They are utilized in the clinical setting to reduce or end a risky health behavior. This clinical intervention model is tailored to the needs of the individual at the time of the intervention. Preliminary results support the change theory as a method for characterizing individuals along a change readiness continuum. This model has been utilized in weight control, smoking cessation and HIV/AIDS reduction. The Center for Relationship Education uses this clinical intervention approach in Medical Sexual Cessation Intervention for Sexually Active Youth in the Clinical Setting curriculum.
Community vs. School Curriculum
Age Appropriateness
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.
Target Areas:
  1. Enhance knowledge of: a) physical development and sexual risks, and b) personal relationships
  2. Support personal attitudes and beliefs that value sexual risk avoidance
  3. Improve perception of and independence from negative peer and social norms
  4. Build personal competencies and self-efficacy to refuse sex
  5. Strengthen personal intention and commitment to avoid sexual involvement
  6. Identify and reduce the opportunities for sexual involvement
  7. Acknowledge and address common rationalizations for sexual involvement
  8. Strengthen future goals and opportunities
  9. Partner with parents
     REAL Essentials includes the aforementioned target areas outlined in the adolescent scientific literature to increase protective factors and to reduce risk factors for sexual risk avoidance. For assistance in evaluating your curricula with respect to these targets, call the Center for Relationship Education at (720) 488-8888 to learn more about the SMARTool.

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.