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Life Skills Program


Off The Pews; Faith In Action Vision for the Life Skills Program

The vision is to offer a 2-year Life Skills Program for middle schoolers in the 6-8th grade. This will be a long-term program to address difficult subjects in a safe environment with a cohort peer group which, we hope, will develop into a strong peer group of friends who may work together, and problem solve life challenges moving forward.

The Winter Session Instructor & Curriculum

The opening Session, starting this Winter for our first cohort of participants, will be led by Carmen Hatch, Parent Coach, Conflict Resolution Mediator, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This Session will include the Anger Management and Conflict Management Modules.

Off The Pews will use an already-designed curriculum created by ARISE in a series of class modules that each cohort will progress through until completion over the course of 2 years—the modules will be combined in program sessions. Off The Pews will reach out to churches, schools, and other organizations to recruit students in the inner city of Chicago to participate in cohort peer groups.

Program Progression & Cohorts

Our first Session in the program will be presented in the Winter of 2023, and the next Session will be presented in the Summer of 2023. Each meeting with have a debrief at the conclusion, and the last class of each Session will be a larger debrief. In this way, each cohort will experience learning and conversation on difficult topics in a safe environment. Each cohort of participants will continue through all 8 program modules, presented in 4 sessions, together.

Eventually OTP will be running concurrent programs, but each cohort peer group will stay together through the process—building relationships and a community network.

To help everyone keep track of the cohorts, each cohort will be assigned a name based on the 7 Principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination), Ujima (collective work and responsibility), Ujamaa (cooperative economics), Nia (purpose), Kuumba (creativity), and Imani (faith). Each cohort’s name will be randomly assigned, but singular in use until “graduation” from the program. The cohort’s name will also be helpful in navigating registration for each session.


After completing the 2-year Life Skills Program, we plan to award our youth with a ceremony and certificate. In this ceremony, Off The Pews would also like to have the graduating cohort meet the incoming cohort—they will be handing off their cohort’s title. Graduating members will also enjoy an opportunity to foster mentorship. All members of the graduating and incoming cohort will be able to expand their community ties.

The Modules

The Life Skills Program will consist of the modules covering the following subjects:

ANGER MANAGEMENT (Winter Session 1)

Students will learn how to control anger and understand why expressing it in a negative way can damage relationships and increase conflict.



The goal: For students to learn how to recognize and deal with conflict.


DOMESTIC VIOLENCE (Summer Session 2)

The goal: To learn what qualifies as domestic violence, discuss its causes, and find ways to prevent or stop it.


GUNS (Summer Session 2)

The goal: To understand the danger of guns and learn to be safe.


DRUGS, ALCOHOL And TOBACCO (Winter Session 3)

The goal: To learn to make the right choices by saying “NO” to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.


GRAFFITI (Winter Session 3)

The goal: To gain an understanding of what graffiti is, how it is done, and how it makes neighborhoods ugly.


CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE (Summer Session 4)

The goal: Students will learn some basic facts about child sexual abuse and will examine false ideas about this issue.


CULTS (Summer Session 4)

The goal: To learn the dangers of getting involved with a cult.


The Winter and Summer Sessions are several weeks long, so each of these topics will be explored in greater detail than we’ve briefly addressed here. Unfortunately, these are the topics our children are facing today. Off The Pews hopes to provide knowledge and guidance in a safe environment and community. 

These Sessions will be combined with other programming. For example, the Winter Session 2023 will involve an art project with supplies generously donated by The Hyde Park Art Center.


These programs would not be possible without the donations and contributions of the community. We deeply appreciate your generosity of financial support, time, spirit, and caring. Peace and blessings to you and yours.


Off The Pews: Faith in Action could not provide these programs without the support of generous donors. If you would like to support this program, please make a donation today!

Thank you!

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