Ambassador Emily Block has chosen to dedicate her life to helping others. Whether she’s volunteering with students at the Barclay School or telling her story about how sexual health education impacted her life, her goal is to improve the lives of those around her.
“I want to be able to help others with my own experiences—I don’t want others to go through that. I want my story and my voice to impact somebody in order to change legislation or help someone who might be going through the same things I went through.”
Perhaps one thing that sets Emily apart from other Tell Them Ambassadors is her age; Emily is 21 years old. She is a music major at Columbia College, and eventually she wants to develop a career out of music therapy. Emily believes that young people have a different perspective on reproductive health that many older advocates and legislators should hear. Her generation experienced a rapid growth of technology in a short amount of time, where the generation before them grew up without iPods or cell phones, but the generation after them starts using smart phones at seven years old. This puts her generation in an interesting situation in regards to reproductive health issues. In the past, teenage pregnancies were covered up, but her generations knows TV shows like “Teen Mom” and “16 & Pregnant,” which she feels are somewhat exploitative of teenage pregnancy. People used to meet at school or work, but now we can find sexual partners over apps like Tinder. This changes how sexual education should be taught, and it means the younger voices need to have input in how sexual and reproductive health should be portrayed in society.
Emily received two days of the required two weeks of sex education while she was in school. When she asked a question about her anatomy, her teacher became embarrassed, which discouraged Emily or anyone else in the class from asking more questions. This lack of information became evident when girls in Emily’s class were becoming pregnant at 12 or 13. Some of Emily’s friends abandoned their plans for college after finding out they were pregnant. She also carried a very toxic idea of purity that damaged her sense of self until she could finally realize that abstaining from sex does not determine your worth. Many of these struggles could have been addressed at a young age with comprehensive education in an open and comfortable atmosphere, but unfortunately this was not included in her education.
We’re excited to have Emily as an Ambassador because she adds a fresh and important perspective on the work that Tell Them does. Stories like hers show how the current standards for sexual education in South Carolina are outdated and ineffective. South Carolina needs to face the music and know that something has to be done. With advocates like Emily, young people are going to make themselves be heard.
“I think the best thing is just to show them the facts. Spreading the word and getting people to see the facts will hopefully change things.”