Sex-ed program proposed for region’s high schools

EMCS and three others are ramping up their sexual education program, only this time, students are the teachers – in a manner of speaking.

Edward Milne Community School, Belmont and Royal Bay are ramping up their sexual education program, only this time, students are the teachers – in a manner of speaking.

A total of 30 students, known as sexual health ambassadors, will be part of a pilot program which encompasses wellness centers and youth health committees at all three high schools. The program was created between Island Sexual Health, Sooke School District and the Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative.

Goal is to supply youth with the knowledge and resources to not only have a better understanding of sexual health for themselves, but for their peers as well, said wellness clinic coordinator Jen Harrison.

“Whether we know it or like it or not, they’re talking about this stuff, so it’s important we give them the language and help them get the skills they need to make safe, mutually-respectful decisions,” she said, adding the clinics have been a great way to connect with youth and allowing them to express their health concerns freely.

Harrison pointed out the idea started from a 2013 McCreary Centre report showing 73 per cent of youth went to a friend first when they needed help. Problem is, the peer-to-peer advice among youth isn’t always accurate, or even helpful.

It’s not to turn youth away from seeking help from adults or professionals either, Harrison highlighted, but to encourage it in a way where the students will build enough confidence to do it themselves.

“We’re not getting youth to go to their friends for advice per se, but if it’s happening, we need to equip their friends with accurate information,”  she said. “What we’re learning in the clinics, is that a lot of them do not have accurate information … it can be dangerous and can create an unsafe situation, so we need to do better than that.”

Both Harrison and Jennifer Gibson, a sexual health educator with Island Sexual health, reached out to several different organizations and individuals to prop up student sex-ed ambassadors in their training. Specialists include those on gender diversity organization, intimacy and pleasure, as well as a nurse and registered councillor presenting on interpersonal communication.

Training topics, which were chosen by the students themselves, included gender identity, orientation, pleasure, consent, dating, healthy relationships, basic sexual health such as contraception, STDs and prevention.

In the long run, the goal is to help youth help themselves even beyond high school, said Gibson, who is helping Harrison steer the new program.

“It’s not just to build their knowledge, but build capacity and connections to the surrounding community in order to resource them beyond this training,” Gibson said, adding she’s hopeful the program will take off.

“With this, we’re trying to take away the structure of adults telling youth what they need, and giving them the opportunity to tell us what they need and how we can support them in using this knowledge to promote health,” Gibson said.

First training session will be on Feb. 23, at Belmont, followed by Feb. 24 at EMCS, and on March 4 there will be a special follow-up session further discussing the program.

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sooke Mayor Maja Tait was elected president of the Union of B.C. Municipalitiesin September 2019. She helped guide the 190-member organization through the coronavirus pandemic. (UBCM photo)
Sooke mayor front-line commander of the coronavirus pandemic

Maja Tait played pivotal role during COVID-19 crisis

HarbourCats players celebrate winning the North Division Championship Series in 2019. (Christian J. Stewart/File Photo)
Victoria HarbourCats locked out of team Facebook page

Management hires legal team to solve issue

Sooke School District No. 62 superintendent Scott Stinson explains that most block classes at Belmont Secondary will be halved. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Sooke School District opens conversation on catchment boundary changes

Feedback solicited at virtual town hall Oct. 28

Leila Bui with her parents Tuan Bui (left) and Kairry Nguyen at the end of the trial that found Tanessa Nikirk guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Nikirk is back in court for her sentencing hearing. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATED: Court hears letter from driver convicted of hitting Saanich girl

Leila Bui has been in a non-responsive state since she was hit in 2017

VicPD and B.C. Conservation Officer Service teamed up to free two bucks who were entangled in a fishing net and dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them. (VicPD)
VIDEO: Victoria police, B.C. Conservation help two bucks caught in one fishing net

Bucks were also dragging a wheelbarrow sized piece of driftwood behind them

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

RCMP have released more details regarding what led up to an arrest caught on video in Williams Lake Sunday, Oct. 26. (Facebook video screenshot)
Review launched after ‘high-risk, multi-jurisdictional’ chase, arrest in Williams Lake

RCMP launching a full review and code of conduct investigation

Freighter drags anchor towards Boulder Point Oct. 22. It came within 730 metres of the shore, according to maps from the Port of Nanaimo. (Photo submitted)
MacGregor introduces bill to address freighter anchorages along the South Coast

Concerns about the environment, noise, pollution and safety abundant

(Pxfuel)
B.C. limits events in private homes to household, plus ‘safe six’ amid COVID-19 surge

Henry issued a public health order limiting private gatherings to one household, plus a group of ‘safe six’ only

B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson speaks during a drive-in car rally campaign stop at a tour bus operator, in Delta, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Andrew Wilkinson stepping down as B.C. Liberal leader

Will stay on until the next party leader is chosen

Harvesters participating in the extended commercial halibut season will need to land their catch in either Prince Rupert (pictured), Vancouver, or Port Hardy by Dec. 14. (File photo)
B.C.’s commercial halibut season extended three weeks

COVID-19 market disruptions at the root of DFO’s decision

Campbell River's new hospital, July 2018
Nurse diverts opiates and falsifies records at Campbell River Hospital

Nurse facing disciplinary action for moving opiates out of the hospital

SIG
Sooke U15 squad blast past Comox

Rylan Sokolosky records hat trick

A view from the deck of a home in SookePoint. The property is a prize in the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation Millionaire Lottery. Tickets are on sale now. (Contributed photo)
Millionaire Lottery home up for grabs in Sooke

Sooke prize home part of latest VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation Millionaire Lottery

Most Read