History of Above the Waist

Orthodoxy has failed. It is time to take risks. Be daring.
Michael A. Carrera, Founder and Director CAS-Carrera


As our evidence-based, seven-component program has flourished over the past 30 years we have felt compelled to share the overwhelming successes we have experienced reducing teen pregnancy among the young people we serve. We recognize that, while the full replication may prove to be cost prohibitive to some, we have the opportunity to provide the larger interested community with our at once time-honored and innovative approach to holistic sexuality education.

We are proud to see Above the Waist joining the growing number of curricula and programs in the field that reach beyond educating young people about the truth and consequences of genital sexual expression to bring much needed attention to the often underemphasized, albeit critical, elements of sexuality education and sexual literacy.

Embracing innovation and, at the same time staying true to our roots, we have designed each session of Above the Waist to be anchored in three core philosophies that have guided the success of CAS-Carrera for nearly 30 years:

  1. The brain is the most powerful sexual organ in the body.
  2. Self-esteem is caught, not taught.*
  3. We do not teach young people what to think…we are helping them to learn how to think because we have full respect and confidence in their individual abilities.*

Key activities from the first draft of Above the Waist were field tested with 7th and 8th grade students at Thomasville Middle School in Thomasville, NC and with 8th grade students at Bronx College Preparatory Charter School in Bronx, NY. The verbal and written feedback from these field tests was applied to adjust session content, engagement strategies and scaffolding social risk taking to better fit the developmental age and stage of the intended audience. At the same time, we selected a group of diverse experts in the field to review this draft. The rich feedback we received from this group was invaluable in creating the final product, of which we are enormously proud. As yet, Above the Waist has not been formally evaluated.

* Carrera, M.A. (1996), Lesson for Lifeguards: Working with Teens When the Topic is Hope. New York, NY: Donkey Press