CrossRoads has two primary ‘education’ products and several other products that support them. The one that has been around the longest and has had the most exposure is our school curriculum called Life at the CrossRoads (LATC). It is a 30 lesson (560+ pages) curriculum broken down into five units intended for use with middle school aged students over the course of a school year. Each lesson is designed for a 50 minute class period with suggestions for shortening the lesson if needed. Each lesson includes an Activity page, a Journal Reflections page and a Family Connections page for parents.
The underlying philosophy of CrossRoads is an ‘abstinence only’ message (‘risk avoidance’ (or ‘risk elimination’) vs. ‘risk reduction.’
The curriculum is based on the following foundational beliefs:
1. The best way to solve the HIV/AIDS pandemic is to choose abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage.
2. Abstinence and fidelity are behavioral choices
3. Healthy behavioral choices are outcomes of one’s values and character
4. The best way to influence values and character is through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
The five units of LATC are as follows:
Unit 1 Relationships
Unit 2 The Character Connection
Unit 3 Sex in Perspective
Unit 4 Practical Skills
Unit 5 Navigating Your Future
Unlike many abstinence education curriculums, LATC has a positive tone. It emphasizes what kids ‘should do’ as opposed to what they ‘shouldn’t do.’ The education methodology is cooperative education as opposed to traditional ‘lecture’ style or group work, though small groups form the foundation of all learning throughout the curriculum. The curriculum is also literature based so that contextualization is facilitated by replacing stories in the curriculum with stories, songs (dance even) that are more culturally relevant.
The premise of LATC is that everyone wants to enjoy healthy, happy relationships and that good character applied to all relationships is the best way to achieve that goal. It is one’s character that places him/her at risk of making unhealthy, harmful choices (e.g., sexual activity outside marriage, drug and alcohol abuse, abusive relationships, gang violence, etc.); choices that can destroy dreams and result in harmful, unhealthy relationships.
The character foundation of the curriculum focuses on what Dr. Tom Lakona (Center for the 4th and 5th R’s, State University of New York at Cortland – www.cortland.edu/character) calls the six pillars of character or ‘virtues.’ They are trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, caring/kindness, fairness/justice, and citizenship. At lessons 11 and 12 (the closing lessons of Unit 2 (Character Connection) we show the Jesus Film as a way of demonstrating the most exemplary life ever lived. The film is shown in one lesson (Lesson 11) and discussed in the next. This is done more as an academic exercise than a religious event or evangelistic activity. Students are encouraged to look for examples of good character in Jesus’ life as they watch the film. Their observations then become the basis for summarizing the unit.
A follow up study for teachers who are trained to teach LATC is called, Jesus as a Role Model of Character. There is also a series of eight workshops for parents whose children are going through LATC and a guide for parents designed to help them conduct a family discussion time related to the Family Connection page that goes with each lesson.
The second primary education piece we offer is much shorter and is called Better Choices (BC).
BC is a six session seminar designed for use with youth in various settings…church youth groups, camps, clubs, retreats, community youth programs, etc. A companion video called Choices accompanies BC, but it can also be used as a ‘stand alone’ video (30 minutes). Both BC and Choices are very evangelistic with an invitation to receive Christ in each. BC also comes with a series of drama scripts designed by CCC staff in southern Africa for locations that do not have access to electricity or video players to show Choices. However, the drama scripts also provide an opportunity for more people to be involved in a Better Choices project, such as a short term missions trip. BC is the project that John Tempelhoff was working on when you met with him.
CrossRoads also has a newly released video (DVD) called Hope+ (Hope positive).
Like Choices that traces the stories of five individuals who are HIV positive and who have come to personal faith in Jesus, Hope+ traces the lives of four people who are HIV positive. The difference is that the Hope+ stories are of people who live in South Africa, Russia, and Jamaica. The fourth story is of a Chinese American living in Chicago. Choices is about the lives of 5 Americans. Hope+ is a dynamic witness to the power of Christ and changed lives. However, it is not as evangelistic as Choices (i.e., it doesn’t have an invitation). You can visit Hope+’s micro site by logging on to www.hopepositive.com.