We need to know if you are coming... please RSVP.

- your name, age, grade, if you have come before
- any food preferences (e.g. vegetarian)
- any allergies or health issues
- how to contact you (email and phone no.)

- if you are bringing a friend
- what congregation you are from (if applicable)
- what advisor are you attending with (if applicable)
- how are you travelling to Ottawa (if from outside Ottawa)
1. ON FACEBOOK Join our group: Owl in Ottawa


3. CALL: STEPHEN GABE AT 613-226-3250

Registration takes place when you arrive on Friday night.

Printable Registration & Parent Permission Forms

For those in Ottawa there will be an:

OWL Parent Information Session
date & time to be announced
at First Unitarian of Ottawa (see map below)
Parents of youth attending OWL Weekend are strongly urged to attend (youth please tell them!). Youth do not need to attend this session.
Please RSVP to Stephen Gabe if you plan to attend.

On Friday night of OWL (Nov 28, 2014 at 7 pm), YOU NEED TO BRING:

- SIGNED parent permission form (link above)
- your SIGNED copy of Participant Rules for SR OWL (link above)
- your health insurance number- a change of clothes or two, PJs, toiletries
- sleepover stuff (sleeping bag, pillow, sleeping mat)
- $40 registration fee (can't pay? no problem, ask for a subsidy)
- positive attitude and open mind

FOR INFORMATION... CALL STEPHEN AT 613-226-3250 or email


OWL Program Themes

Personal Sexuality Issues


Family Planning

Social Justice


What is OWL?

Our Whole Lives (OWL) is a sexuality education curriculum that can be offered to five age groups: K-grade 1, grade 4-6, grade 7-9 (JR High), grade 10-12 (SR High) and Adult.

The OWL curriculum was developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ in the U.S.A. Many Canadian Unitarian congregations now have teachers trained and are offering classes in most of the 5 levels across the lifespan.

The First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa has offed the year-long sexuality education at the grade 8 level for over 20 years. "About Your Sexuality" (AYS) was the precursor to the OWL program. We have offered OWL at the grade 5 level for 8 years and expanded the OWL program to Kindergarten and Senior High school in 2004.

We have always welcomed young people from outside our congregation that have been interested in participating in these classes.

Unitarian Principles and Values
The OWL program taught by the First Unitarian Congregation incorporates Unitarian principles and values, both in the materials and how everyone interacts during the weekends. Unitarians affirm and promote:

..........The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
..........Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
..........Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
..........A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
..........The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
..........The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;
..........Respect for the interdependent web of existence of which we are a part.




Why a Sleepover?

The OWL teaching team worked with the youth advisors and the youth at FUCO to find the best way to deliver the curriculum for the senior high school level. Taking all issues into account, we believe that the best way to deliver this OWL curriculum is in this type of direct, intense format. The normal YRUU (youth group) Sunday sessions were not available to perform the training. Finding another time of the week was difficult, and meant that less youth could attend.

At this age, weekend long activities are ideal for social interaction, and having fun. It also meets the FUCO goal of opening the training to more youth. This is especially important given that recently it was identified that in Ottawa, 13 year olds are less knowledgeable than 10 years ago.

It is critical to have a closely bonded group by Saturday’s delivery of the program. This is especially important given that delivery of the more sensitive and frank material benefits from a higher level of trust in the group. By including ice breakers, trust building games and a sleepover, critical bonding takes place.

Our church has a long history of safe, supervised, co-ed sleepovers. Feedback from the first OWL weekend run 29-31 October 2004 was that this format was very successful. It generated thinking about values, open discussion about frank material, comfort asking difficult questions, practice in communicating concerns, values, and ideas in relationships, looking at different paradigms.

If you have questions about the sleepover format, please feel free to attend one of the parent information nights or to call Stephen at 613-226-3250


Meals Included!

Your registration includes 3 meals on Saturday, breakfast on Sunday, as well as snacks on Friday and Saturday.All meals are vegetarian with occasional chicken or beef options. Please inform us in your registration information if you have any food concerns or allergies.

OWL Facilitators

JODI McINTOSH is a substitute elementary school teacher. She has a BA in music and a BEd from the University of Saskatchewan. Her passions in life are travel and family. Her most recent trip was a two month stay in Ghana West Africa where she volunteer taught thirty-two 5 year olds at a small school. Jodi is a member of the Chalice choir. She is trained to facilitate JR & SR High OWL.

ELLEN BELL has a B.A, a B.S.W. and a M.A in Counselling and Spirituality. For five years she taught high school in Uganda. She also taught high school in Northern Quebec and Adult Education in Ottawa. She has worked as an employment counsellor and is a counsellor in private practice. Ellen is Lay Spiritual Care Visitor at First Unitarian, a part time staff position and also works part time as a multi-faith chaplain in a small general hospital. She is studying for the Ministry. She has two adult children. Ellen is a volunteer in the Welcoming Congregation committee, has been on the Minorities Awareness and Personnel Committees and sings in two church choirs. Ellen is trained to facilitate JR & SR High OWL.

RICHARD GUY BRIGGS is a computer engineer, husband and parent. Richard "found" the Unitarian church when he was 17, "teching" sound for Sunday services and weddings and joining the youth group. In 1997 he spent 4 months in Nepal as a volunteer with Child Haven International. After returning, he taught "About Your Sexuality" (AYS) the precursor to OWL, for 2 years. Richard has also been a Youth Advisor for 4 years.

GUY BELLEPERCHE has completed the OWL training program in 2005, and has facilitated both the JR High OWL program and SR High OWL program since then. He is a father of two school-aged children and works for the Federal Government, where he has led training programs before.

JOE CONNOR has had a long career in public television and in instructional media at the Pennsylvania State University and the University of Manitoba. He has taught overseas in North Africa and worked as a consultant in Canada’s North. In 1994 and 1995 he served as Special Assistant to Canada’s Science Minister. He has taught OWL at the Junior High level both in Winnipeg and here in Ottawa. Grandfather to Amy, Evan and Skylar and Ella, Joe plays tennis and cross country skis.

STEPHEN GABE has completed the youth and adult OWL training, and has extensive experience teaching SR High OWL, JR High OWL and the grade 5 OWL programs at First Unitarian. Stephen is a Youth Advisor at our congregation and is the father of three daughters ages 14 to 21. Stephen is also the registrar for our SR OWL program.

ANN GREEN is completing a degree in Pastoral Care in Palliative Settings. She is currently working for the Federal Government, and has worked in private industry as an insurance claims adjuster, a claims examiner and, more recently, as a trainer for telephone service representatives in insurance. The best job she ever had was as a full time, stay-at-home mother for ten years. Ann strongly supports the idea of sexual ethics being part of sexual education, and believes all ethical issues come down to the maxim, “Try not to hurt anybody; try not to get hurt by anybody”.

MARGARET (MEG ) GOURLAY joined First Unitarian in the spring of 2005. With an M.A. in Media Studies, Meg taught for over 15 years at Concordia University, specializing in television and sound production, script writing and business communication. Meg has worked with learners ranging from 8 to 80 years old, in very personalized and interactive classes. As a lesbian woman living with Fibromyalgia, Meg is well aware of the difficulties faced by people with multiple challenges. An aunt to 10 youngsters (now aged 7-32 years), and great-aunt to three, Meg has lived a life filled with children.

mom and step-mom to seven children, ages 11 - 25, has coordinated and taught in the SR and JR OWL programs since 2004. Currently a human rights activist and lawyer, Lisa worked with youth for over ten years at the Ottawa Board of Education and an Ottawa area Community Health Centre, providing counseling and referral services to youth ages 11-17. She is a certified Life Skills Coach, Planned Parenthood Facilitator, and has training in Suicide Intervention and Crisis Intervention.

LENA TALBACK grew up in Ottawa and at First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa. She is executive assistant to the CEO of the National office of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), a Canadian charitable organization that promotes the mental health of all and supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing mental illness. Lena is a former Montessori pre-school teacher who, as part of her duties, also offered regular parent education sessions. She is the mother of 3 young adult daughters. Trained in Elementary and Jr. & Sr. High OWL, she has facilitated both Grade 5 and JR High and SR High OWL.

JOHN TURNBULL has an MSc in Biology and is a parent of two children. Involved in the First Unitarian Congregation for many years, John has taken the Planned Parenthood training and the AYS teacher training. John has taught the OWL program for grades K-1, 4-6, JR High and SR High OWL.

JOAN TURNER, M.S.W. is a retired social worker, therapist, former university professor and bookstore owner, editor/ co-editor of 3 books. An active grandparent and Unitarian, Joan enjoys skiing, skating and tennis and being with children and youth. An experienced OWL facilitator for JR and SR High OWL, Joan is also a trainer of teachers for Elementary and Adult OWL. She co-chairs the OWL Facilitation Committee of First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa and is on the Canadian Unitarian Council OWL Oversight Committee.


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SR OWL Workshop Summaries

Sexual Health

Workshops 1 - 10 are grouped together in a category called “Sexual Health”.
Session 1 - Workshops 1, 2, 3 - Learning about our bodies
Session 2 - Workshops 4, 5, 6 - Taking care of our sexual selves
Session 3 - Workshops 7, 8, 9, 10 - Making safer choices

Workshop 1 - Language
· Explore the language of sexuality.
· Become more comfortable discussing sexuality issues.
· Practice using words about sex and sexuality with other people.
· Develop trust and intimacy in the group.

Workshop 2 - Body image and feelings
· Identify how they feel about their own bodies.
· Explore differences in how men and women make judgements about their bodies.
· Explore differing ideals for body types.
· Look at how body imagery is a culture-bound phenomenon.

Workshop 3 - Anatomy and physiology
· Learn the basic reproductive and sexual parts of human bodies.
· Develop an understanding of the range of normal size, shape, colour, and odour and the function of each part.

Workshop 4 - Sexual response cycle and sexual functioning
· Understand the body’s physiological response to sexual arousal.
· Understand the physical, emotional, and psychological components related to sexual response.
· Understand the difference between a goal/orgasm-oriented model of sexual response and one in which pleasure is the only goal.
· Understand the psychological and biological causes of common sexual dysfunctions and their treatments.

Workshop 5 - Reproductive and sexual health care
· View reproductive and sexual health care as a part of their overall health care.
· Understand what a breast self-exam and testicular self-exam are, how to perform these exams, how often to perform them, and what to do if there is a noticeable change or symptom.
· Understand what a pelvic exam includes and what the experience is like for a young woman.
· Understand what a visit to a health clinic includes and what the experience is like for a young man.

Workshop 6 - AIDS and other STDs
· Become familiar with the most common symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
· Become aware of the need to consult a health-care professional if they suspect they have a sexually transmitted infection and learn where they might seek such care.
· Be able to assess their own risk for infection, based on their personal behaviours.
· Be aware of the stereotypes, prejudices, and myths that surround the topic of HIV/AIDS.
· Acquire or review a basic understanding of HIV, including modes of transmission, window period, testing issues, latency period, and current rates of adolescent infection.
· Explore different values associated with STDs and understand their personal feelings and values on this topic.

Workshop 7 - Contraception
· Review methods of contraception.
· Develop an understanding of the factors involved in selecting a method of contraception.

Workshop 8 - Condoms and negotiating for safer sex
· Become more comfortable looking at and touching condoms.
· Learn about the female condom and the dental dam.
· Learn the correct ways to use a male and a female condom.
· Understand the necessity for using a condom in almost all sexual situations in which adolescents take part.
· Negotiate with a sexual partner about always using a condom for sexual activity.

Workshop 9 - Safe fantasy
· Explore the range of sexual behaviours that do not put them at risk for pregnancy or disease.
· Define sex as much more than intercourse.
· Think about safer sex as fun and sexually fulfilling.

Workshop 10 - Sexual health (Closure - summary 1-9)
· Find meaning in what they have learned in Sessions 1-3
· Identify how they will use what they have learned in their own lives.

Lifespan Sexuality

Workshops 11 - 20 are grouped together in a category called “Lifespan sexuality”. The book groups the sessions as follows:
Session 4 - Workshops 11, 12, 13 - Exploring our sexual development
Session 5 - Workshops 14, 15, 16 - Becoming a parent
Session 6 - Workshops 17, 18, 19, 20 - Expressions of sexuality

Workshop 11 - Gender roles
· Become familiar with the idea of gender roles and their impact on our daily lives.
· Clarify their own ideas about their gender and other genders
· Explore the range of perceptions and misconceptions people have about each gender.
· Gain insight into the similarities as well as the differences between females and males.

Workshop 12 - Identity, roles, and orientation
· Understand and be able to differentiate between biological sex, gender identity, gender roles, and sexual orientation.
· Develop an understanding of the extent to which our culture and our biology influence our sexual development.
· Think about safer sex as fun and sexually fulfilling.

Workshop 13 - Sexual orientation
· To understand that sexual orientation is not a choice.
· To understand that sexual orientation may have both biological and learned components.
· To recognize that sexual orientation is not just about behaviour.
· To understand that sexual orientation is not just about with whom we have sex but also about with whom we become friends and with whom we identify.
· To clarify personal values about sexual orientation

Workshop 14 - Conception, pregnancy, and birth
· The physiological processes of conception, pregnancy, and childbirth.
· The importance of prenatal nutrition and health care to babies' health.
· The factors that may contribute to positive and negative experiences of pregnancy and childbirth.
· The psychological, social, emotional, and economic impacts of parenting.
· The importance of the father/partner in the process of parenthood.

Workshop 15 Parenting licence
· Understand the many factors involved in being a parent.
· Identify which of these factors are most important.

Workshop 16 - Parenting alternatives
· Become aware of alternatives to heterosexual marriage with biological children.
· Identify the issues and concerns associated with adoption and child-free marriage.
· Clarify values concerning adoption and child-free marriage

Workshop 17 - Sexuality time line
· Explore various expressions of sexuality among people of different ages.
· Recognize that people are sexual beings throughout their lives.

Workshop 18 - Sexuality and people with disabilities
· Explore their own values and attitudes regarding sexuality and disabilities.
· Recognize that people with disabilities have sexual needs and expressions.
· Think about how one could interact with a person with a disability in a sexual way.

Workshop 19 - Sexual expressions and relationships
· Develop an awareness of the wide variety of sexual relationships.
· Determine which types of relationships would be acceptable to them.
· Clarify their values concerning various types of relationships

Workshop 20 Lifespan sexuality (Closure - summary 11-19)
· Find meaning in what they have learned in Sessions 4-6.
· Identify how they will use what they have learned in their own lives.

Building healthy sexual relationships

Workshops 21 - 31 are grouped together in a category called “Building healthy sexual relationships”. The book groups the sessions as follows:
Session 7 - Workshops 21, 22, 23 - Communication
Session 8 - Workshops 24, 25, 26, 27 - Intimacy, masturbation, and lovemaking
Session 9 - Workshops 28, 29, 30, 31 - Recognizing unhealthy relationships

Workshop 21 - Verbal and nonverbal communication
· The role of nonverbal communication in sexual relationships.
· The importance of making nonverbal messages consistent with verbal messages.
· The possibility of misinterpreting nonverbal messages because of individual differences in communication styles.
· The role of facial expressions and physical touch in relating emotions, thoughts, needs, and desires
· How verbal and nonverbal communication interact.

Workshop 22 - What makes a good relationship?
· Think about what they are seeking or might seek in the future in a life partner relationship.
· Prioritize these characteristics for themselves.
· Learn which characteristics are most important for their peers.

Workshop 23 - Questions of the other gender
· Practice communicating about sexual issues.
· Become more comfortable asking and answering questions about sex and sexuality.
· Gain any information they seek about the sexuality of another gender

Workshop 24 - Defining intimacy
· Understanding that intimacy does not have to be expressed genitally or sexually.
· Recognize the value of a variety of interpersonal relationships with people of other genders.
· Consider the importance of platonic, emotional, and intellectual closeness with another person.
· Understand that a person can enjoy intimacy by himself/herself.

Workshop 25 - Masturbation myths and facts
· Identify the messages they have received about sex and masturbation from a variety of sources and determine whether those messages were positive or negative.
· Explore myths and facts about masturbation.
· Discuss their own fears, feelings, and concerns about masturbation.

Workshop 26 - Sexual behaviour
· Learn the names and definitions of a wide range of specific sexual behaviours.
· Explore their own feelings and values about the sexual behaviours defined in this workshop and determine whether they would participate in those acts and with whom.

Workshop 27 - Images of love and sex in music and video
· Think critically about the messages about love and sex in popular music.
· Recognize the negative as well as positive impact music and music videos can have on their beliefs and values regarding sex, love, and relationships.
· Become more discriminating consumers of popular culture.

Workshop 28 - Power and responsibility
· Experience, in a safe and nonthreatening way, power differentials between men and women.
· Experience (for men) both the frustration and the freedom of having another person in control of their well-being.
· Experience (for women) both the responsibility and power involved in controlling another person's well-being.

Workshop 29 - Power in relationships
· Gain understanding of how another gender views and experiences power and powerlessness.
· Increase empathy for others and their experiences with unequal power in relationships.
· Gain insight into how unequal power in a relationship is unhealthy and how to share power and responsibility.
· Gain a greater understanding, empathy, and compassion for members of another gender and thereby experience better communication.

Workshop 30 - Breaking up and moving on
· Identify and discuss reasons for ending, rather than continuing, a relationship.
· Develop and practice the skills necessary to end a relationship.

Workshop 31 - Building healthy sexual relationships (closure - summary 21-30)
· Reflect on what they have learned in Sessions 7-9.
· Identify how they will use what they have learned in their own lives.

Sexuality and social issues

Workshops 32 - 39 are grouped together in a category called “Sexuality and social issues”. The book groups the sessions as follows:
Session 10 - Workshops 32, 33 - Reproductive rights
Session 11 - Workshops 34, 35, 36 - Power and control
Session 12 - Workshops 37, 38, 39 - Equality

Workshop 32 - Abortion
· Be aware of and understand the many issues involved in the abortion debate.
· Explore opinions and issues about abortion with which they may not agree.
· Clarify their own values about abortion.

Workshop 33 New reproductive choices
· Explore the range of reproductive options available to infertile couples.
· Get in touch with their own feelings about what defines parenthood.
· Think about the ethical and legal issues raised by new technological advances in the area of fertility.

Workshop 34 sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, and erotica
· Distinguish between sexually exploitive and non-exploitive representations and behaviours.
· Explore the extent to which sexual harassment and sexual exploitation are part of their lives.

Workshop 35 Date rape
· Analyze why date rape might occur in a given situation.
· Identify how date rape might be prevented.

Workshop 36 Between consenting adults
· Define and explore the concept of consent.
· Identify how they would respond in a variety of morally ambiguous sexual situations.

Workshop 37 Gay pride parade
· Identify important issues related to gay rights.
· Demonstrate their views about gay rights through artistic expression.
· Develop an awareness of their own levels of homophobia and heterosexism.

Workshop 38 Gender equality
· Examine their own views about gender equality.
· Express their ideas about gender equality in a creative manner.
· Explore the ways in which issues of gender equality have changed since the women's movement of the 1970s and the ways in which they have remained the same.

Workshop 39 Sexuality and social issues (closure - summary 32-38)
· Find meaning in what they have learned in Sessions 10-12.
· Identify how they will use what they have learned in their own lives.
· Think about what actions they can take to make a positive difference in the world.

Closing Session
· Say goodbye to the group and its members.
· Identify significant learning moments from the program.


Thinking about the workshop content...


Guest Speakers!

Speakers from the University of Ottawa Pride Centre, October 30, 2004 Posted by Hello


Group Hug! Posted by Hello


Love feast... Posted by Hello

Thanks for the food...Curtis and Asha! Posted by Hello


Community Involvement

Various members of our congregation help to make this a successful training event. The young adults organizes the food, the youth group organizes midnight worship services and fun activities. Many adults participate as teachers or supervisors.


Music Anyone?

During break times, youth may choose to walk in our meditation garden, perform for each other, have refreshments or just get to know each other. Posted by Hello