My name is Michele Drake Hyde. In 2022, I updated the curriculum for Conscious Minds Conscious Bodies (CMCB).
I joined E4G as a board member in 2018, just as E4G had begun offering CMCB programs. The original curriculum team had designed the concept and several activities, and I had the honor of drafting the first standards-based lesson plans and co-facilitating our pilot program. That very first CMCB program felt sacred and incredibly impactful. We had created a safe space for kids to learn about their bodies, ask tough questions, and lean into loving themselves more. The experience reaffirmed the value of a blended social-emotional learning (SEL) and sex-ed approach.
In 2023, we reimagined our program in alignment with the WA state Comprehensive Sexual Health Education (CSHE) curriculum guidelines, WA K-12 Health Standards, and WA SEL benchmarks. We kept all the best parts of CMCB and included a slew of new activities, tools, and content so that our program remains most relevant and impactful for the youth we serve. Below, I’ll explain some of the most important modifications of our program.
1. CMCB is now a CSHE program.
When I first laid eyes on CMCB in 2018, it lacked instruction about anatomy or menstruation. As a certified Sexual Health Educator, I felt strongly that this content was essential. After all, menstruation is perhaps the most challenging aspect of puberty for girls and non-binary youth and is still among the most prevalent social taboos. To fill this gap in the CMCB curriculum, I have participated as a guest teacher in every program for the last three years to teach anatomy and menstruation. In our latest update of CMCB, anatomy and menstruation education is integrated into the curriculum so that each instructor receives ample support for facilitating activities and conversations around these topics. In following the CSHE guidelines, we have also added tracks of age-appropriate activities to differentiate our program to meet the needs of each participant, regardless of age. All attendees will still learn about the origins of the human egg and sperm and then shift into separate groups for further learning. Our attendees under 12 years old will learn about the stages of fertilization and pregnancy (steered by their inquiry), and our teen participants will learn about STI and pregnancy prevention.
2. CMCB is now more trauma-informed.
While CMCB has always worked to be a safe space, we now have built-in support for youth who may struggle to feel comfortable in their bodies (and in conversations about bodies) due to body dysmorphia, sexual trauma, or other challenges. Our facilitators have access to trauma-informed educator training and resources, and we have designed processes to provide youth with alternate spaces and emotional support while in our care.
3. CMCB social media information is now more relevant to youth.
We have updated our lessons and materials using feedback from previous CMCB participants. We have always touched on the harmful effects on body image stemming from the propagation of manipulated photos. But now, we have revamped our activities to focus more specifically on influencers, photo filters, and the unrealistic and harmful expectations they impose on youth. We also offer more in-depth strategies for social media use and harm reduction.
4. CMCB facilitation strategies are evidence-based.
We have culled and curated our instructional practices based on up-to-date research. While each of our facilitators will bring their unique leadership skills, each program will focus on four primary learning experiences. The foundation of the CMCB program consists of four components: talking circles, experiential learning, age-appropriate content, and art therapy. Facilitator-led talking circles both open and close each program day. Talking circles develop the themes of each day and encourage self-expression, positive program culture, and team-building. Each morning, the facilitator invites participants to practice a mindfulness activity. By the end of the week, participants have experienced a minimum of five self-regulation strategies. Our facilitators present content-based information using various research-backed instructional methods, including written materials, lecture, short videos, partner turn and talks, small group collaboration, and more. Our daily art therapy projects are adapted versions of lessons developed by certified art therapists.
5. CMCB mindfulness and emotion management strategies are both evidence-based and documented.
We have removed some practices that were not evidence-based and added many mindfulness and mindset tools with proven effectiveness. We will continue to curate the best and most effective tools for our programs.
We are looking forward to offering this newest iteration of CMCB in 2023. We will continue to seek feedback from program participants, their families, and our facilitators to keep CMCB relevant, current, and effective as a body literacy and sexual and reproductive health program.