Before the “big talk”

. February 19, 2013.

Communicating with teenagers can be a challenge, especially when it comes to the “big talk” on drugs and sex. Saint Joseph Mercy Health System gives parents a unique look into the teenage world through programs entitled Drugs 101 and Sex Education 101: What Parents Want to Know. The presentations debuted in the community in spring 2009. Both programs are designed to travel to any organization, including schools, districts, churches and community events. 

Program coordinator Cheryl Phillips says that before these offerings, the Health Exploration Station staff were receiving consistent requests for this type of parental education. “Everything indicated programs like these were a need in the community,” says Phillips. And parents appreciate the insight. One hundred percent of attendees marked that they would recommend it to others in post program surveys.

A highlight of Drugs 101 is a mock teenager’s bedroom, set up for parents to observe and interactively identify the obvious and not-so-obvious drug related paraphernalia. More than 70 drug and alcohol indicators will be unveiled in the 2-hour session to help parents identify drug use. Facts about drug use, including how drugs affect the body, are also discussed. 

Sex Education 101 helps parents initiate conversation with their children, stressing the need to start these conversations early. Designed for parents of children of any age, the 90-minute program gives parents resources and tools to provide age-appropriate sex education. Parents can learn how and why sex education begins at infancy, learn key concepts to address at each age, and take
home a thorough resource list.

Both programs can include up to 100 participants (adults only) and cost $500 each per group. However, the programs are also available for free at select locations throughout the community. For a calendar of scheduled workshops, visit (click St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, Classes & Events) or check the Ann Arbor Publisc Schools Rec & Ed spring catalog.