Last month, I had the privilege of running women’s and sexual health session at the Phoenix Youth Centre in Footscray as part of the Lead On Again Program. The Lead On Again Program is an innovative leadership program run by the Western Young People’s Independent Network (WYPIN) and Women’s Health West (WHW). The program aims to teach leadership skills to young women who are primarily from migrant and refugee backgrounds and aged between 16 and 24, who live, work or study in the Western suburbs.
The girls (which myself and my fellow volunteer, Kate Stirling) met on this day, were a group of beautiful young women who were hoping to use this program to learn skills to excel in future work prospects, leadership positions and study opportunities.
The session began with an introduction to the reproductive anatomy of males and females. We went through menstrual cycles, sexual intercourse and pregnancy. We were able to obtain a magnetic whiteboard from The Royal Women’s Hospital which proved to be a great visual aid.
The next topic we covered was contraception. We did a demonstration on how to apply a male condom and discussed the benefits that condoms provide with preventing contracting sexually transmitted diseases. We also showed the girls a female condom which was responded to with a few confused and sceptical faces. Then we discussed the contraceptive pill, emergency contraception, implanon and intra uterine devices. The girls had a few questions and were very comfortable sharing their thoughts amongst the group.
Kate then drove the discussion over to sexually transmitted diseases and sexual health. We opened the conversation by asking the girls which diseases they were aware of. They were able to list a few and then we were able to give them further information on these diseases, their effect on the body and what treatment would be required if they were contracted.
We ended the session by discussing the importance of having a GP that they knew and trust and the importance of having regular pap smears and breast checks.
Kate and I stayed for morning tea so that we could chat with the girls. It was really lovely to see their enthusiasm for their future and hear why they had enrolled themselves into the Lead On Again Program.
Many of them said it was also their dream to become nurses and midwives and they asked us many questions about what was needed to achieve these goals. To be able to give these young women information to empower them to make their own decisions with their bodies was very rewarding.