Saleema Noon with a group of pre-teens before COVID-19. (Twitter)

Sexual health ‘master class’ for pre-teens offered online

‘The pressure is just so huge, even in Grade 5.’

Sexual health for pre-teens guru Saleema Noon is evolving her school-based program for online COVID-19 life.

Noon and her team of sexual health educators have worked with a group of pre-teen “influencers” to develop a so-called master class for kids to set them up for a happy, healthy life.

The pre-teens identified what topics to address and how to address them, making sure the messaging is relevant for young people.

All Noon’s programs are prevention-based, aiming to support kids with tools before a crisis and angst hits. And there are a lot of tools pre-teens need to successfully get through life.

“The stakes are just so much higher than when we were kids,” Noon told Black Press.

“The pressure is just so huge, even in Grade 5. When my stepdaughters were younger – they’re in their 20s now – we just told them they couldn’t have a cell phone until high school. And that was okay then, but now Grade 5 is like the new Grade 7.”

The classic fear of missing out (or FOMO), is intensified with cell phones. Noon has heard from some parents that kids want to sleep with their phones because they’re afraid they’ll miss out on a group text, or someone will say something mean about them and they won’t be able to defend themselves right away.

The idea with the master class is to help parents teach good habits early so when kids are ready for social media they can use it in a way that’s fun and healthy.

The workshop, called the Growing Up Game Plan, covers six areas: gender and gender stereotypes, how to honour and express emotions, healthy relationships, being assertive, puberty and body image, and internet safety.

When offered in schools, typically parent advisory committees fund the workshops. Online they are fee-based, but in future iterations Noon plans to use her foundation to sponsor families financially. The current cohort is open for registration until Feb. 25; a second cohort will launch in the summer.

Registration for the online workshop is here: https://saleemanoon.com/growing-up-game-plan/

Do you have something to add to this story or something else we should report on? Email: zoe.ducklow@blackpress.ca


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