Talking about big issues with faith
Published: 11 November 2012
By: Selina Venier
Real talkers: Kym Keady and Paul Ninnes spearhead the Real Talk outreach to young people and their families
BRISBANE'S Kym Keady and Paul Ninnes "have dived into" what they describe as their "life's call" to spread positive messages about sexuality and faith in God with young people and parents.
Since July this year they have delivered 50 Real Talk presentations and visited nine dioceses.
"Real Talk is about getting real about the topics of sex, relationships and personal identity," Kym said.
"Peers, the media and the Internet serves up the wrong messages about sexuality and identity to young people.
"Based on Catholic Christian values and personal sharing, our seminars seek to address the students where they are right now and help them make positive decisions for the future."
"We know from recent research and experience that these sensitive topics and the Catholic understanding of these can be difficult topics for educators to address effectively," Paul said.
Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane praised their efforts.
"The work you are doing through Real Talk is important work and much needed," he said.
"I commend you for your commitment to this vital area of Church teaching and personal development."
The duo, who both have spouses and children, have developed the Real Talk model in unison but Kym said Paul "is the driving force" behind its success today.
"Paul's the one who said, 'Let's jump in'," she said.
"I've never been scared of the failure of Real Talk ... I've only been scared of its success."
The Love and Life Seminars are tailored to the group and can consist of 45 or 90-minute presentations for a half or whole day.
There are presentations for a mixed group of males and females or as individual sexes.
An example of a female seminar is one themed True Beauty while a male-only seminar is titled, Stronger.
Both resonate with God's plan for a life according to His will and Word.
"'True Beauty' sessions tap into the desire of every female to be seen and to be beautiful," Kym said.
"It seeks to expose the false portrayal of beauty in today's world and the pressure to conform to society's standards.
"Addressing issues such as self-image, the beauty industry, eating disorders and how to recognise true beauty, this session encourages and empowers girls to see the truth of who they are and how God created them to be.
"It draws forth confidence, maturity and a desire for healthy relationships."
"'Stronger' tackles the big issues like pornography, respect, relationships, teenage apathy and bullying," Paul said.
"The presentations encourage the participants to be men of character whilst affirming the dignity of women.
"Like the muscles that give physical strength - character and success are propagated through good training and hard work.
"Stronger calls forth a higher standard for the men of tomorrow."
The seminars were "designed to take students on a journey", Kym said.
"We talk about everything from identity, to relationships, to marriage and to having babies," she said.
"(And) at its core, Real Talk is evangelistic."
The sacraments of the Church are referred to often in the seminars.
"Reconciliation (the Sacrament of Penance) - and the decision to 'start again' - is mentioned in every retreat we do."
On October 29, Kym and Paul facilitated seminars at Mt Maria College, Petrie.
The petite woman of faith - whose personal testimony of teenage pregnancy and poor choices captures the attention of young people and adults - said the Petrie visit was "amazing".
"After speaking to thousands of young people we have seen the amazing, positive impact that's possible in just one day," she said.
"The Mt Maria (Parents' and Friends') really got behind it and over 150 came along ... they were from about 80 families.
"The sense of empowerment that I felt the parents felt was amazing.
"I felt like we had 'given them back the reigns' to take their teenagers to the next level of maturity.
"Many of them said, 'I can do this'."
Kym said parents of teenagers often felt powerless.
"As a parent of a teenager it's easy to disengage and put your hands up in the air and say, 'I don't know what to do'," she said.
"We reminded them that you are the adult, the parent and they need you now more than ever before."
Paul has worked full-time for Real Talk this year, moving away from a high-paying career.
He is studying sexual health at Griffith University and has studied at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family.
Kym, who ministers with NET (National Evanglisation Teams), is mother to two teenagers and is a trained counsellor, was a co-author of the post-sacramental program for pre-teens called "Girl Talk".
She is giving more time to Real Talk as it builds momentum and has begun post-graduate studies in addictions and family therapy.
To contact Real Talk email email@example.com or call 0417 148 164.
Their website is www.realtalkaustralia.com