Curriculum Overview

Pono Choices is a scripted, 10-module, 9.5-hour curriculum that provides middle school youth with the knowledge and skills necessary to reduce their risk of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The curriculum provides youth with medically accurate information within a Hawaiian place-based framework. Pono Choices draws from social learning, self-regulation, and developmental assets theories, and it has been developed through a collaborative workgroup process.

The 10 lessons in the curriculum cover the following topics:

      • Anatomy and puberty
      • Goal setting
      • Effective communication skills
      • Recognizing healthy and unhealthy relationships
      • Refusing unwanted sexual pressure
      • Information on how STIs are transmitted
      • Knowledge of birth control methods including abstinence
      • Correct steps for effective condom use
      • Practice refusing sexual pressure through scenarios and role-plays

The core components of Pono Choices are built around a set of knowledge, attitudes, and skills that have been derived from a review of evidence-based teen pregnancy and STI prevention programs. In addition, Pono Choices works from a pedagogy that believes student engagement through role-play and skill demonstration is essential. A key component unique to this curriculum is the use of cultural referents, Hawaiian practices, and connection and engagement activities involving ‘ohana. The 10 modules in the curriculum include information on abstinence, sexually transmitted infections, birth control methods, refusal skills (how to refuse unwanted sexual pressure), decision-making skills, goal setting, reproductive anatomy, puberty, and recognition of traits associated with healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships. Students are introduced to Hawaiian cultural terms and practices that stress positive character development and making pono choices. Below is a description of some activities that take place in the curriculum.

      • Identifying goals and dreams – encourages adolescents to consider their goals for the future and think about how participating in unsafe sex might get in the way of attaining those goals.
      • Viewing locally produced videos – used to depict adolescents in various situations. These videos evoke feelings, thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and stereotypes about HIV, STIs, and pregnancy. Videos also model refusal skills for unsafe sex, which are then discussed in a group setting.
      • Participating in role-play scenarios – designed to provide youth with the confidence and skills necessary to negotiate and refuse sexual activity. Here, particular emphasis is placed on the variety of ways in which the prevention skills learned in this program can be implemented and applied in real-life situations.
      • Practicing prevention skills – demonstrates that effective communication is an essential skill that can assist youth in preventing undesirable pregnancies and STIs. In Module 8 of the 10-module curriculum, an exercise in which students learn how to put a condom on a wooden demonstrator is included as part of the lesson on preventing STIs. This activity stresses abstinence as the only 100% effective method of preventing pregnancy and STIs, and it meets the Hawai‘i State Board of Education Sexual Health Education Policy 103.5.
      • Participating in a paddling activity – focuses on having youth consider goals for the future, determine support networks that will help them achieve their goals, and identify potential barriers they may face in reaching their goals and dreams. It makes clear that their best strategy for preventing an unintended pregnancy or STIs is abstaining from sex.
      • Participating in a lei exchange ceremony – provides a culminating experience for students to identify the key knowledge and skills they have acquired through Pono Choices.

Knowledge, attitudes, and skills pertinent to pregnancy and STI prevention are reinforced through cultural referents. Cultural components in the curriculum include: the introduction of Hawaiian cultural values, an original cultural story, cultural practices, and locally produced videos and artwork. Hawaiian cultural values are introduced in each lesson to reinforce lesson content and are expanded on through the original cultural story, entitled “The Voyage of the Wa‘a Kaulua.” The story serves as an access point into the curriculum content from the viewpoint of two adolescents preparing for an important journey. Pono Choices embeds cultural practices in the curriculum through ‘ohana (family) activities. Students and the members of their ‘ohana have the opportunity to construct a wa‘a (canoe), braid cordage, and create a lei while reinforcing the message of pregnancy and STI prevention. Pono Choices also uses locally produced videos and historical readings. Stories are used throughout the curriculum to connect students to their community. Seeing oneself represented in the curricula is an essential part of any culturally responsive learning environment.

The core components related to content, pedagogy, and implementation can be found on the Curriculum Overview page. Additional overview materials include the recommended Parent Night Guide and handbooks developed for parents and stakeholders.

Pono Choices Curriculum Overview Resources