SAN DIEGO — Teen STAR helps youth and young adults “come to terms with their emerging sexuality and fertility” and to make “responsible decisions.”
Founded by Dr. Hanna Klaus, Teen STAR is an acronym for “Sexuality Teaching in the context of Adult Responsibility.” The developmental curriculum has been taught to middle and high school students in more than 30 countries since 1980 and may soon be coming to San Diego.
The diocesan Office for Family Life and Spirituality is hosting a four-day workshop for anyone interested in being trained as a Teen STAR instructor. The training will be held March 16 to 19 at John Paul the Great Catholic University’s Student Life Center in Escondido.
“Our kids are bombarded with contradictory and confusing messages about what it means to be human, while at the same time not receiving adequate body education and awareness,” said John Prust, director of the Office for Family Life and Spirituality, explaining the need for something like the Teen STAR curriculum.
He noted that one of the challenges teens face is learning to accept themselves.
“A big part of that acceptance is coming to terms with one’s body and what it might tell us about God’s dream for us and our lives,” said Prust. “In other words, how we are being called to love one another the way God loves us through these incarnate bodies God has given us.”
He expressed hope that Teen STAR will take root in San Diego.
“By training a batch of instructors, I hope that Teen STAR can become another important tool in our family life education toolbox,” he said. “Teen STAR has tremendous potential to impact the lives of our youth for the better, but the only way to find out is by giving it a shot and seeing if/how the Holy Spirit has a plan for it in San Diego.”
Deacon Santiago Molina, of the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Fla., is executive director of Teen STAR USA. He said the program fills a need by offering “a more holistic – and holy – view of our bodies and who we are” than young people can find in the media.
“We include the five major factors that make the human person: physical, emotional, intellectual, social and spiritual,” he said.
Deacon Molina will be one of the presenters at the workshop, where he will be joined by Sally Ivers, a Teen STAR board member, and Suzanne Spence, Teen STAR’s Western Regional Rep. He said that participants can expect a “pretty intense” schedule that will include presentations, discussions, videos and group interaction. At its conclusion, attendees will be prepared to teach the curriculum in youth groups, confirmation classes, schools and other settings.
Spence gave a presentation on Teen STAR during the Diocese of San Diego’s Family Life Education Curriculum Fair last September at Our Mother of Confidence Parish. She contrasted the curriculum with other programs that promote chastity.
Many are based on “telling teens what or what not to do,” said Spence, a registered nurse by profession. But Teen STAR embraces “a personal growth model” through which students come to recognize the value of sexuality in the process of learning about themselves.
“I most hope that the introduction of Teen STAR in San Diego will usher in a new era of understanding, respect for, and communication in the area of human sexuality between parents and educators with the teens under their care,” she said. “I want others to experience a growing confidence in our young people to ‘handle’ this new-found information to make good decisions in the area of sexuality … despite the many challenges they face. As a Teen STAR instructor, I have seen it for myself.”