REAL U (Relationships Explored and Life Uncovered) Programme 

Foróige’s REAL U Programme was developed to enhance our service delivery to young people and enable them to explore issues pertinent to Relationships and Sexuality. It was developed as a way of exploring a number of relevant topics including boundaries, puberty, body image, reproduction, gender, sexuality, consent, contraception, sexually transmitted infections, mental health and more. It is designed to be used in a non-formal learning environment and aimed at young people aged 12-18 years in a group work setting, but can be adapted by facilitators to meet the needs of those they work with.

In line with best practice, the REAL U programme is regularly reviewed and updated to ensure it is meeting the needs of young people. The REAL U Programme's most recent update was launched in 2022. For this update we continued to work with a variety of organisations and also worked with new organisations that provided their expertise in a variety of areas. These organisations include:  Health Service Excecutive Sxual Health Crisi Pregnancy Programme, The Marie Keating Foundation, Rape Crisis Network Ireland, HIV Ireland, BeLonG To, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

Underpinning Theories 

REAL U is underpinned by two overarching theories: Health Belief Model and The Theory of Planned Behaviour. Both of these theories illustrate the importance of working on attitudes and knowledge to enhance a persons’ self-efficacy to carry out an action.

Aims and Outcomes

The REAL U programme is a personal development and sex education programme aimed at equipping young people with the skills, knowledge and confidence to develop healthy relationships and delay the onset of early sexual activity.

On completion of the Core Module participants will be able to:

  • Demonstrate strategies to cultivate positive relationships.
  • Develop and practice effective communication skills, in particular assertiveness.
  • Demonstrate increased awareness of their behaviour in relationships.
  • Explain importance of respect with regards to a person’s gender identity, expression and/or sexual orientation.
  • Outline ways of maintaining positive mental health.
  • Identify a range of influences that affect their relationships.
  • Describe the importance of developing their own boundaries within relationships.
  • Understand how the reproductive systems work.
  • Access relevant information available to them.

On completion of the Elective Modules participants will be able to:

  • Explain the physical changes that take place during puberty.
  • Identify the possible outcomes of sexual activity e.g. STIs, HIV, parenthood etc.
  • Demonstrate strategies for discussing contraception.
  • Explain the causes, symptoms and treatment of a range of STIs and HIV.
  • Identify some of the influences on human sexuality and body image including media influences.
  • State the importance of a good hygiene habit.
  • Describe the benefits of checking their own bodies.
  • Describe methods of coping with stress.
  • Demonstrate a heightened understanding of consent.
  • Differentiate between pornography and the reality of a relationship.

Participating in the Programme 

The programme is for everyone aged 12-18 years. If you are interested in taking part in the programme talk to your local Foróige Staff Person or Adult Volunteer Leader.

Become a Trained Facilitator 

Facilitator Training in the REAL U Programme is carried out over 2 days. The training is interactive with opportunities to participate and facilitate activities from the programme. Input from partnered 

This training is open to all those working with young people who are in a position to facilitate the programme. Participants must have the level of facilitation skills required before attending the training. Applications will be reviewed and places will be allocated on merit. 

On completion of this training, participants will be able to: 

  • Describe the aim of Foróige’s REAL U Programme
  • List the modules of the REAL U Programme
  • State the outcomes of the REAL U Programme for participants
  • Identify key considerations when facilitating REAL U activities with your service users
  • Facilitate the REAL U Programme 


An Evaluation of Foróige’s REAL U programme was undertaken in 2013 by NUI Galway Child and Family Research Centre. The key aims of the study were to assess the outcomes for young people taking part in the programme and to explore the perspectives of stakeholders regarding the programme, its implementation and outcomes. The evaluation was mixed methods, with a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods used to address the research questions. 

The study highlighted that the REAL U programme is seen as effective in engaging young people, responding to their needs and impacting on their knowledge and attitudes in this area. Baseline data indicated that there was a need for the REAL U programme, with misinformation regarding sexual knowledge and prejudicial attitudes evident among the young people. Outcomes data showed statistically significant effects for the young people who had taken part in REAL U in relation to attitudes to LGBTI+ people and knowledge about sex. Young people rated the programme highly, with 98% rating it as good, very good or excellent, while 84% said that they would recommend the programme to other young people. Qualitative data highlighted that young people found the programme to be relevant, fun and insightful and participants said that it made them better informed and more aware of the consequences of their actions. A survey of staff trained in the REAL U programme indicated that all respondents believe the programme is effective in meeting its objectives.

The REAL U Programme is funded by the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (SHCPP) for more information visit their official site here.

For more information about the REAL U Programme please contact: [email protected]