Eye to Eye: Preconference Workshop Connects Youth and Adults

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O​SBHA's Statewide Youth Action Council, in partnership with Planned Parenthood Southwestern Oregon and Columbia Willamette, presented their new curriculum called Eye to Eye: Discussing Sensitive Topics with Youth as a preconference session at our annual conference on October 9. Designed as a three-hour experiential learning opportunity, the workshop focuses on presenting advice from teens for adults on developing trusting relationships with young people. One participant provided immediate feedback saying, "This is the best conference workshop I have ever been to."

The workshop began with each of the council members getting into character as students visiting a health clinic and sitting down with two adults, most of whom were school professionals or health practitioners. The challenge for the adults was to begin thinking about how to engage in a constructive conversation while building trust and asking the questions that pinpointed the purpose of the visit. 

Here is a snapshot of some of the characters:

Ketchura Antoine played Giona, a 17-year-old girl from a sheltered background who needed more information on safe sex practices and a much better understanding of what it meant to be sexually active.
James Biggers played Christian, a 17-year-old guy who suffered from depression and substance abuse brought on by his parents’ recent divorce and absenteeism. 
Tobias Rubel played Tucker, a 17-year-old guy who was considering dropping out of high school and was the victim in an abusive relationship.

Each character had a range of presenting issues that needed to be explored and discussed, and our SYAC members did an excellent job of remaining true to how much teens might be willing to discuss in a first-time appointment at a health clinic. One thing was clear: asking a question just once might not be enough to get inside some of the real issues. 

Here's a clip of Tobias in character as Tucker speaking with a team of adult practitioners:

Following this role-play opening where the youth rotated among different groups of adults, the adults received feedback on their interactions, questions, and assumptions directly from our council members. This provided a rare opportunity to explore the kind of conversation we know many adults would love to have with teens that included honest feedback. 

To close the workshop, our youth leaders presented on array of topics with lots of opportunity for questions and dialog with the full group. Here's a clip about understanding some of the baggage we all carry when interacting with others and understanding some of the assumptions we are prone to making: 


All told, the youth leaders and adult participants gained a great deal from the experience, setting the stage for our Youth Action Council to bring the training to other communities and teams of practitioners in the region.

For more information about the Eye to Eye training opportunity, please contact Julia Hakes.