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"Remember, it's Vegas rules, guys. What happens here, stays here," says Alexander Chan to a room full of giggling high school teenagers as he goes over the ground rules for a workshop all about healthy relationships. Chan's background is in marriage and family therapy. Now he's an educator with 4-H in Prince George's County, Md., where he leads a youth development program, through University of Maryland Extension, to help local teens understand and cultivate positive romantic partnerships.
His goal with the healthy relationships workshop is to create a space for teens to learn good habits and to ask those questions that can sometimes be embarrassing. The workshop is delivered in stages, so kids can learn the importance of knowing their own identity before getting into a serious romantic relationship. From there they learn what it takes to build a relationship and, finally, the best ways to end a relationship.
4-H, yes, is primarily known as the farming club in high school, so it may seem like a strange fit, but the four H's in the name stand for head, heart, hands and health.
"Our goal is to give kids the confidence and courage to navigate challenges they find at school and in their everyday lives," adds Sirangelo.