This week West Valley one n ten was treated to an evening of the awful truth when it comes to STD’s/STI’s with an intent to empower, rather than simply scare the youth. Hosted by fabulous guest speakers, the group was regaled with stories of having an STI and all the baggage that comes with it beyond the pain and suffering; such as shame, having to disclose to others, avoiding rejection, realizing that life isn’t over, and developing a new-found respect for oneself. The group was reminded that when they are sexual with someone, they need to be smart about their choices, and remember to be fully present in the moment to be fully aware and responsible.
The discussion then moved on to other aspects of sexuality such as boundaries and communication; knowing what one will and won’t do, and feeling comfortable to say “No” to a partner and mean it. Youth were also reminded that they are responsible for themselves when they are sexual with someone else and not to bow to pressure or guilt that sex will “fix” what may be wrong in the relationship.
When the floor opened up for questions, the discussion shifted to discussing age of consent laws in Arizona, what constitutes consent, and forms of female contraception available. The evening was informative and entertaining that allowed the youth to not only experience a little shock or a little disgust, but also move past it and feel comfortable in a safe space to ask questions about sex even if it seemed silly or embarrassing. In the end the youth left with a knowledge and a sense of empowerment to be able to tap into their inner diva and create their own safe space when they’re ready.