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Tuesday, October 29, 2013
This week at SMART Youth we watched “How to Survive a Plague,” a documentary about the activist movement around HIV/AIDS. This Academy-Award nominated film, which was released in 2012, followed activist groups such as ACT-UP from the early 80’s, when HIV/AIDS was just beginning as a public health crisis all the way through the late 90’s, when effective HIV treatments began to improve the quality life and increase the lifespan of those living with HIV. The film shows how effective activism can be to bring attention to an issue that is not on the national or international radar as well as force people in positions of power to take action.
After the movie, we had a lively discussion about what the youth were surprised to learn from the film, why activism is necessary, and the differences between HIV/AIDS issues in the 80’s and today. SMART Youth leaders also discussed how important it is for us to continue on this work, especially as it relates to advocating for greater funding for prevention efforts and HIV treatment as well as helping to end the stigmatization of HIV. We also recapped the Halloween party, ate popcorn, and welcomed new youth. It was a great movie night!
On Saturday, October 19th, SMART Youth hosted its 9th annual Halloween Party for NYC youth! With a DJ spinnin’ some beats, great food, and MAC makeup artists making everyone look fabulous, the party was a huge success. Plus, it ended with great dancing and a fun costume contest with some great prizes!
This year we added a new twist. Every youth received gold or silver beads when they arrived to the party. At 3 different times during the party everyone had to meet someone they didn’t know and exchange necklaces, as many time as they wanted. At the end of the party we revealed that gold necklaces meant you had unprotected sex and silver necklaces meant you had protected sex. This meant every time you exchanged necklaces you might have had unprotected sex not only with that one person, but also had sex with every one of their previous sexual partners. The activity showed how important it is to make the decision to use a condom every time someone has sex!
On Friday, October 11th, SMART Youth was fortunate to have Marlene Edelstein, a health educator from the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, and our very own Ann Rodwell-Lawton present She Didn’t Ask For It! The workshop focused on understanding the role of acceptance of sexual violence in our culture and how it is present all around us. This is commonly called Rape Culture.
We worked towards understanding that Rape Culture is the normalization of sexual violence and a culture that perpetuates this norm. Breaking down this complex definition, we also brainstormed how this affects our lives and gave examples we’ve seen around us.
It became very clear this issue permeates all aspects of our society including politics, media coverage, pop culture, music, authority responses to sexual violence, and how we interact with our friends and family. We also explored the unfortunately reality of victim blaming and slut-shaming in our culture.
Now that we understand rape culture and how it affects us, we can start to change and make our society a safer place for everyone.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
SMART Youth Sex Ed- Contraceptives 101: Mo' Babies, Mo' Problems
This week at SMART Youth, our very own Christina Rodriguez presented Contraceptives 101: Mo’ Babies Mo’ Problems, based on a blog post here in November 2012. She highlighted all of the contraceptive options available to youth, including both immediate and long-term solutions. In addition, we learned how to access each of these methods, any side effects they may have, and the relative cost of each one.
We also played Contraceptives: True or False in which we debunked several contraceptive myths, including the myth that being on the pill will definitely cause you to gain weight. Although all of these methods are effective at preventing pregnancy, many of these solutions do not protect against STI’s, so it is still necessary to wear a condom!Lastly, we discussed details for the Halloween party, including catering options and prize selections. In the end, the group decided on a variety of heavy appetizers in place of one type of food (Italian, BBQ, etc.), and after a very spirited debate and vote, costume contest prizes will include gift cards from Target, Crumbs Bakery, and more!