When Liverpool City Council and the Bulldogs NRL put out an advertisement to run a workshop for young people, we jumped at the chance. The workshop would give the young people an hour sporting activity with the Bulldogs and then an our educational program with a service like ours. Of course, we wanted to use this opportunity to get young people thinking more deeply about what a healthy relationship looks like.
The good news was that the Bulldogs invited us to participate but there was one little worry…
At Bonnie’s we largely work with adult women so the prospect of working with a completely different audience was pretty daunting. Would we be able to capture their attention? Be relevant? Get them thinking? We had to push through our doubts that young people would find the subject too boring, too traumatising or maybe too complex and what we found, was none of the above. They were incredibly open, incredibly informed and very interested.
How we did it
One of my favourite exercises in our workshop is called The Line. It’s borrowed from ‘Love Bites – Healthy Relationships’, a relationship program run in schools. ‘The Line’ is all about asking the students to reflect on their own expectations of relationships and at which point they would draw the line. It simply involved the workshop leader reading out statements such as “I expect my partner to tell me where they are at all times” or“It is ok for my partner to tell me what to wear”and inviting the students to agree or disagree. Students would walk to the left side of the room if that statement rang true for them and to the right side of the room if it didn’t. People undecided stayed in the middle.
What we found
We ran this exercise with four different high schools and what we all learnt was that some things are black and white. For example, no one thought it was ok to physically hurt another person. But there was also some grey areas. Some thought it was ok for their partner to have friends of the opposite sex while others did not. Some thought it was ok to share their social media passwords and others did not.
What I really think was important though was not this answer or that answer… but that a real discussion began. Our workshop did exactly what we’d hoped. It allowed young people to actively engaged in this very real and important topic, to share their own views, hear the views of others and maybe get a new perspective on the issue.
We’d like to thank the Bulldogs NRL and Liverpool City Council for allowing us the privilege of starting some conversations that day. We’re hoping it will change the future for some of the young people in the room. While we love walking alongside the women we work at Bonnies, our big hope is that one day they will not need us anymore. That eventually, women and their children can live safely without us.
If you have any questions about your relationship or know someone that else that might, we are now down at Liverpool Women’s Health Centre. Feel free to drop in Monday, Thursday or Friday.
Before you go…
Here is a video we showed in our workshops to deepen the conversation too. It is about a boy Ethan that is jealous of his girlfriend, Emma. The young people were given the option to say, if they were Emma, what would they do and see what may happen as a result. Have a watch and answer, what would you do.