BY MEGAN MANN
FOR THE OBSERVER
The Alabama Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Project (AHMRE) has come to Auburn with the hopes of helping couples build and continue healthy relationships.
Julianne McGill is an assistant research professor in the department of Human Development and Family Science at Auburn University and the project manager of AHMRE.
Through the AHMRE project, Auburn University is now offering free relationship classes to anyone in the Auburn and Opelika community who is 19 years of age and in a partnered relationship. McGill said the classes are not just about people with relationship problems, but couples who want their healthy partnership to remain that way.
“We serve couples in the community in order to promote healthy, stable relationships and to support child well-being as well because we believe that if family life is healthy and functioning in a positive way that children are best able to grow and learn,” McGill said.
All class offerings will present ELEVATE, an evidence-based relationship education program that teaches couples how to take their relationships to the next level by focusing on core relationship skills.
“When you go to the dentist you might not be having issues with your teeth, but you go regularly to check in to prevent issues from popping up,” she said. “When you get your oil changed you do this regularly as a preventative measure and that’s really what we think of in these classes.We’ve had couples in our program that have been married for over 50 years and they are just there to kind of improve their relationship where it is.”
The sessions are offered virtually and in-person, and both are free. There are two options for the program which include one class a week for six weeks or one class a month for six months. This round of classes begins on Oct. 25 and 26 and will take place on Auburn University’s campus.
The AHMRE project not only provides a free meal at each class but offers childcare services, as well as compensation for travel fees.
All couples who register will also have the opportunity to participate in a program impact study and receive compensation for completing surveys. Each person can earn up to $160 over one year or $320 per couple. Couples will also be eligible for a program completion payment of $60 if they complete all sessions.
“Our project director Dr. Francesca Adler Bader is the one who had this vision when she first came to Auburn — she was extensive faculty and working with the Alabama cooperative extension system,” McGill said. “She really saw a need for families and the couple part of families, like parenting education.”
The AHMRE project is designed to help couples work on key components in their relationship, with hopes that a healthy romantic relationship will lead to a good home life for a couple’s family.
“We believe you have to be able to one, take care of yourself first and then be able to be a good partner in order to parent a child you have in your home,” McGill said.
AHMRE and its partner projects have had more than 61,000 people participate in the classes throughout the past 10 years. The organization hopes to grow those numbers higher and continue to help positively impact relationships throughout the community.
“We would love to just be involved at every level in the community,” McGill said. “I think that is kind of our goal, is for people to see that it is important to take care of your couple relationship and that this isn’t therapy and it’s not intimidating. Our ultimate goal and hopes are that down the road we could see healthier relationships, decreases in divorce rates and higher quality interactions in the home to support children.”
For more information or to register for a class you can contact the AHMRE Project via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, over the phone 334-844-8711 or scan the QR code on the flyer.