Posted by Ryan Morgan on January 03, 2014 at 1:02 PM
Tell Them's January social media campaign asks organizations, programs, and businesses in South Carolina, “What are you doing in 2014 to encourage healthier youth in SC?”
By Rebekah Dixon
As a young person studying on Clemson University’s campus and as someone who has a strong interest in pursuing a future career in medicine, I understand the value behind comprehensive and medically accurate health information. I have seen how sexual health education can empower a community and how young adults, when given the proper tools and information, become active in wanting to not only protect themselves but become active in sharing this valuable information with their significant others, roommates and family members.
Recently, I have been spending some of my time tabling on Clemson's campus. Instead of being one of the tables that just hands out boring flyers that students casually throw away, I and others have decided to take a different approach. We engage our peers by being proactive, having funny games like condom races and sexy trivia facts.
On our first day of tabling, we slowly would put out our slightly risque items from Bedsider
. As our table became one of the most popular, we gave out close to 200 condoms and over 330 Bedsider items in under 2 and half hours. We reserved our spot from 10am till 2:30pm the day before Halloween and we had to close our table at noon because we ran out of handouts. Students are crazy about sexual education when it is presented in a non-intimidating or -threatening way. This was able to establish connections with not only undergraduate students but engage professors and graduate students who wanted to know why the students were so excited.
One of the students decided she was going to be the condom fairy for the day and took 10 condoms with her and tweeted to come find her in her next class because she had condoms. Another student came to our table and then went to class. She came back with 5 friends and then went to her next class where she had 5 more friends and was able to bring them back. A third student took some of our stickers and one of our t-shirts to send in a care package to her friend in the military who works in sexual violence prevention programs overseas. According to that student her friend has been able to take our silly tabling event as a model to empower some of her patients and the people she works with in the military on a daily basis. These are all just a few of the examples of how impactful tabling can really be when you are proactive in engaging your surrounding community.
We always follow up tabling with an informational meeting, often advertised on Facebook and usually the same day as tabling. These information sessions have given our new student organization a huge opportunity to engage students, professors, and anyone curious about sexual health into sex positive conversations. We debunk the myths of sexual health and because we do it in a way that is non-intimidating we have been able to create an open and positive environment. This has given students the ability to feel empowered and provides them with the platform they need to share their personal stories and trials with us. In the two months we have been active as a sexually positive environment, we have been able to have the opportunity to engage many students and allow them the space to feel comfortable to share their stories of sexuality.
Overall, tabling and engaging students to be proactive about their sexual health, has really taught me a lesson about stigma and not to rely on the speculation of others. I will continue to be amazed by the ability of some condoms and sexy trivia facts to empower and engage a community of students in their sexual health. Sex should not be an intimidating subject. Sex is fun and young and vibrant and should be considered a positive consensual healthy behavior.
Wow! Who would have thought that Clemson would be so responsive, supportive, and amazing. Thank you to the amazing support of Tell Them
, the Ambassador program, and to Bedsider.org for the wonderful swag and to Advocates for Youth
for the condoms. By educating one, we educate another and must continue to educate to improve the health outcomes in our state. As Margaret Mead once said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”