2 Feb 2011

Utah program to help families leaving polygamy expands to offer life skills to youth escaped from FLDS communities

The Salt Lake Tribune - Utah January 11, 2011

Youth who have left polygamy can learn life skills in St. George


A program created to help families leaving polygamy learn life skills will expand to offer classes to young people who have left the twin towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah.

Known colloquially as the Lost Boys, young men and women who grew up within the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and now live in the St. George area may not be prepared for life on their own, said Jeanne Adams, facilitator for the Jump Start Life Skills program.

The classes will cover dating, relationships, job skills and budgeting, among other issues, and also include a discussion and a meal, Adams said. The last such education program attracted about 30 people before it ended about three years ago, she said. It is also open to young people from other polygamous communities.

The Jump Start program was started by the St. George-based HOPE Organization last year with a $40,000 grant from the National Presbyterian Church based in Louisville, Ky. For the past year, it has been offering classes in Hildale for families who are in the process of leaving polygamy.

Many of those lessons have been organized by Dawna Bistline, a volunteer with HOPE Organization who lives in Hildale.

“For the younger kids, we teach about being nice to people, recycling,” she said. “A lot of the kids out here, they need the extra something to do.”

The new classes will start Jan. 26 and be held at the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah facility in St. George.

“These young people, like lots of young people, have not been privy to open conversation about sex and sexuality,” said Annabel Sheinberg, the education director for Planned Parenthood. “Together with [Adams], we want to create a safe space for young people to talk about issues that are important to them, where they feel they can get their questions answered and learn some skills to help them make good decisions.”

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