Don't Do Our Whole Lives Online

Part of Guide to Faith Development

By Melanie Davis

five brown owls standing in a field

Melanie Davis, Our Whole Lives Program Manager for the Unitarian Universalist Association, strongly recommends that OWL programming be postponed until it can be done in person. She advises,

You can keep your participants engaged through online check-ins, social gatherings, games, or even group home study time, but please do not offer OWL online. It wasn't created for or tested for efficacy online. Its in-person interactions and experiential learning cannot be replicated on an online platform. More importantly, potential for harm exists online.

If a participant is triggered, facilitators may not notice and may not be able to offer effective support. Lack of privacy is a grave concern, as friends, parents, and siblings may be in the room, off or on camera. For youth and teen programs, parental permission is required, and that agreement can be broken if friends and siblings listen/view OWL workshops online.

In addition, the UUA and our United Church of Christ publishing partner must be responsible stewards of material we've been granted permission to use in print but not online. If you have questions about this, please contact

We Only Have a Few Our Whole Lives Workshops to Go. Should We Continue?

Nothing in Our Whole Lives is so timely that it is worth putting lives at risk. Once health officials give the all-clear, you can double up on your sessions or offer workshops for Grades 7-9 or 10-12 in 3-4 workshop weekend retreats until your program calendar is caught up.

What Are Our Options?

The UUA and UCC have published some suggestions for adapting the Our Whole Lives for Grades 7-9 material to create a program that consists of fewer, shorter participant gatherings. Similar recommendations are in development for the Grades 4-6 curriculum. Note that any program you adapt will not be a comprehensive, in-person Our Whole Lives program, so you cannot use the Our Whole Lives name or OWL acronym. Visit the Our Whole Lives Facilitator Resources page for the latest information, including free webinars and a host of lifespan resources for at-home sexuality education.

Some congregations are using the Parents and Caregivers as Sexuality Educators Small Group Ministry program online during this lull in in-person programming. This 12-session curriculum can be downloaded at no cost and can easily be adapted for online use.


About the Author

Melanie Davis

Melanie Davis PhD, CSC, CSE is the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Our Whole Lives Program Manager and is an all-levels Our Whole Lives trainer.

For more information contact .