Lad’Ya — ‘in harmony with myself’

Under the aegis of the Russian Orthodox Church the program Lad’Ya has been developed. Lad’Ya is a program of preventing HIV/AIDS and risk behaviour of senior teenagers. Its name is associated with the state of one’s harmony with oneself, others and the world. The program has been conceived by a team of ecclesial and secular specialists including pedagogues, psychologists, psychiatrists and narcologists.

The program is intended for primary prevention of HIV/AIDS and deviated behaviour of teenagers from 13 to 17. Many prevention programs carried out at present are focused on information and education without paying any attention to the fundamental reasons for risk behaviour which leads to HIV infection. They are to inform high school children on problems involved in HIV/AIDS, ways of its transmission, factors contributing to infection, ways of protection, and training for appropriate skills. As a result teenagers learn to some extent what they ought and ought not to do. However, they ignore the kind of person who is given this knowledge and the kind of spiritual and moral guidelines he or she is to follow. Such one-sided programs aiming only to inform teenagers and educate them for the so-called ‘safe sex’ do not address the real sources of risk behaviour, nor do they help overcome irresponsibility and the feeling of all-permissiveness. Moreover, by creating an illusion of being ‘protected’, they fail to motivate a person for beneficial changes thus devaluating the principal aim of prevention which is to form the healthy personality capable of building life according to lofty spiritual values.

The Lad’Ya program, unlike programs focused on information and education, is not addressed to the question of what but rather why. It is based on the principles of non-specific prevention aimed to instil in teenagers the spiritual and moral guidelines which, realized in the program participants’ behaviour, would minimize the risk of HIV infection and consequently its spread. The program helps to actualize good principles in children and to foster their ability to resist evil and develop their spiritual and ethical potential.

The program consists of 23 lessons on Happiness, I and My Life, Man and Woman, Good and Evil, Overcoming Problems, etc. Some lessons are devoted to prevention of HIV infection and drug addiction. A lesson lasts an hour and a half. Each lesson includes various activities, such as discussion on a teenager’s experience, reflection, role games, receiving new information.

The program is intended as additional education for ordinary schools, boarding schools, and vocational colleges. It is meant for both socially adapted and the so-called ‘difficult’ teenagers.

Along with teenagers, parents and educational administrators are involved in the work to ensure a better efficiency of the formational impact of the program.

The Lad’Ya program does not have catechization as its task, nor is it intended only for children already initiated into the Church. It is meant for an ordinary school audience. It can also be used in a Sunday school. It can be easily adapted for a milieu in which Christianity is not the dominating religion, since basic ethical guidelines are the same in Russian religious traditions.

Pedagogues involved in the program should have a pedagogical experience, share the spiritual and ethical values laid down in the program and undertake training to be able to work with it.

The program is propagated as part of a package which includes:

  • 6-8–day training for work with the program for pedagogues and school psychologists
  • implementation of the program in educational institutions
  • lessons monitoring
  • analysis of the program implementation.

The program is been disseminated in cooperation with secular and ecclesial educational structures, for instance, through diocesan education departments. It is obligatory that a priest should participate in the training of teachers and hold regular meetings with them to advise them on complicated spiritual and ethical issues during the implementation of the program. The training of teachers will be conducted by specially trained trainers who can go to a region at request.

The program was also reviewed favourably by the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church. Reviews written by Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, vice-chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations, stated, ‘While the program makes use of psychologically competent methods and technologies, it does not look dry or too academic but contains a living human element and deals with important aspects of life which, without having to do with the HIV/AIDS problem directly, help to look into global ethical categories. It is supplied with references to books on the theme, which makes it possible to modify lessons depending on the audience’.

Experience has shown that the program is effective in working with young people (22-25 y.o.), it may be recommended for work with high school students, especially junior courses. We have a positive experience with this program in rehabilitation centers for drug addicts. Lad’Ya can be used in prisons to work with young people serving sentences.



I. Introduction
II. Goals and objectives
III. Principles of the programme
IV. Contents of the programme
V. Main method
VI. Programme facilitator
VII. Implementation process
VIII. Milestones
IX. Lesson structure
X. Forms of work
XI. Venue and materials needed for training
XII. Modifications for at risk teenage groups
XIII. Expected outcome
XIV. Effectiveness criteria
XV. Programme performance evaluation

Lesson 1. Introduction: Roadmap I
Lesson 2. Happiness
Lesson 3. My life and me
Lesson 4. World of feelings
Lesson 5. Friendship and communication
Lesson 6. You are not alone
Lesson 7. Man and woman
Lesson 8. Love
Lesson 9. Family
Lesson 10. Genealogy, culture
Lesson 11. Health
Lesson 12. HIV/AIDS
Lesson 13. Tolerance. Living with disease
Lesson 14. Psychoactive substance dependence
Lesson 15. Overcoming problems
Lesson 16. Crisis and overcoming
Lesson 17. Life and death
Lesson 18. Good and evil
Lesson 19. Values
Lesson 20. Goals and meaning
Lesson 21. Freedom
Lesson 22. Choice
Lesson 23. Conclusion: Farewell symphony

Appendix 1. Warming up exercises
Appendix 2. Free association list method
Appendix 3. Evaluation of HIV awareness
Appendix 4. Evaluation of opinion about the program of parents, teachers and administration of the educational establishment
Appendix 6. Additional materials to prepare for lessons
Appendix 7. Discussing films as a method of working with youth
Appendix 8. Program reviews

LadYa – Explanatory note & authors (PDF)
Lesson 12 — HIV and AIDS (PDF)
Lesson 13 – Tolerance. Life with disease (PDF)
Lesson 14 – Addiction to psychoactive substances (PDF)