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Be a Force for Change

At the International AIDS Conference last month, AIDS advocate Melinda Gates called for prevention tools for women in an effort to prevent HIV infection. Whether you hope to one day be the next Melinda Gates, want to be a “sexpert,” or simply long to be a force in your community in fostering a positive sexuality, it’s never too early to get started on your quest to make a difference. With 79% of junior high teachers and 45% of high school teachers failing to teach about condoms, any time and efforts you can lend to safer sex promotion at your school, your college campus, and/or local community youth center can only help in righting the wrongs of the abstinence-only sex education agenda in our schools and in assisting women in protecting themselves. With some planning, networking, and heart, your efforts can be a huge success. Hopefully, the following five pointers will get you well on your way…

 

  1. Find allies, like Planned Parenthood. You’re going to need people to work with and support you, as well as provide you with venues for advertising, presentation space, and a “home base.” Unless you’ve got a degree in a sex ed, round up a supervisor to oversee efforts, provide guidance, and back you on any political challenges to your agenda. These people may include your school nurse, a health promotion services director or educator, and/or a faculty advisor.

  1. Make sure that you, yourself, have, at the very least, basic “sexpertise.” Take courses that deal with sexuality is sues, read books written by sex experts, and check out legitimate online resources, like the ones below, for sexual health information…
  1. Work with your local health center or department of health. They may be able to provide you with free pamphlets and articles. Some will also lend you samples of contraceptives for presentations, or, if you’re lucky, have safer sex freebies for you to give away as well.

  1. When host workshops, make sure that you’re culturally sensitive and inclusive. Resources that can assist you in specific outreach to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered community include: the Bisexual Resource and GLBT National Help Center
  1. Keep your programming fun! Whether you’re giving a workshop, are camping out in the student union building with an information table, or are handing out condoms, like Trojan Elexa’s stimulating condoms, get a hold of sexual toys/aids, books, videos, and safer sex supplies for your presentations. Even sex doesn’t captivate an audience forever. So kick things up a notch with some titillating sexual enhancers from these online stores/companies and books, with products and ideas specifically geared towards women, women’s empowerment, and celebrating female sexuality…

More than anything, make sure that your efforts are sustainable. Have somebody you can hand the reins to when you move on, or have a whole sexual health peer advocates program, based on your efforts, in place so that more people can go out and spread the word on safer sex and female empowerment. After all, being a force in and of itself can be contagious.

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