Dare to Stand Out: Educating and Engaging Youth in Taking Action on Hepatitis C, STBBIs and Promoting Better Health Practices in their Community

Entering the fifth year of this program, the Canadian Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity runs the only national youth training program that focuses on sexually transmitted & blood-borne infections (STBBIs), run for youth, by youth.

Through our work with youth who have been affected and infected with hepatitis C, we discovered that there was a very apparent need that was not being addressed: the presence of a health curriculum that is inclusive and sex positive, addresses harm reduction, and discusses what blood-borne infections are.  Youth are consistently identified as being an at-risk demographic group when it comes to STBBIs, and these statistics seem to compound for marginalized communities (ex. based on race, gender, sexual orientation, family income) or if they’re street involved. Thus, we began our nation-wide project “Dare to Stand Out: Educating and Engaging Youth in Taking Action on Hepatitis C, STBBIs, and Promoting Better Health Practices in Their Community” with a strong focus on hepatitis C and HIV, along with other STIs.

What is our Vision?

Our goal is not only to reach out to these communities, but to really get youth to take ownership of their health and education. We believe that youth know exactly what they need and what they want to learn, and that they also have the potential to be leaders in their communities. This is why our program is built on a “peer-to-peer” education system, where we train our participants to become Health Ambassadors who will then return to their communities to educate and engage their classmates in a healthy discussion on STBBIs.

How do we do it?

The program consists of 3 main parts:

1) The National Youth Training Forum;
Officially titled Dare to Stand Out:  A Canadian Youth Forum & Conversation on STBBIs, our youth training forum brings together 85 student leaders from all across Canada for a week of education and training on the topic of STBBIs. Not only do we talk about what STBBIs are or how they’re transmitted, but we teach our Health Ambassadors ways to minimize their risks, the concept as well as methods of harm reduction, and ultimately how stigma and discrimination contributes to STBBI transmission.  On top of that, we train youth on different community projects that they can do back in their schools to educate other youth on STBBIs and harm reduction, and we also train them on skills like how to talk to peers about sexual health, accessing health resources in their area, and other leadership skills.
For more information on the Forum, click here.

2) Health Ambassador community project support and tracking;
Following the week-long forum, the CCGSD continue to support our Health Ambassadors’ with the implementation of their community projects, helping research local health resources in their communities for them to build partnerships with, and to track the progress and reach of our project.

3) Evaluation of Impact.
Through various methods, we track the progress of our Health Ambassadors to determine the degree in which we are enhancing knowledge, sharing resources, and promoting healthy practices among their peers. We use all of this data to determine how we can improve our program in terms of content, the best tools to engage these students with, and what the overall impact of our program is.

When does the Training Forum Take place?

Our national youth forum, Dare to Stand out: A Canadian Youth Forum & Conversation on STBBIs, runs in the first week of December every year. This year, the forum will be taking place December 6th – December 10th, 2016! Click here for more information & application forms! or please contact Kai at forum@ccgsd-ccdgs.org.

Want to get Involved?

There are a variety of ways to get involved! We want to engage local and national organizations that specialize on the topic of STBBIs, sexual health, harm reduction, or public health, on a variety of levels, whether it is to provide educational material, conduct a workshop, or to maybe sit in as a member of our Advisory Board for this program.

We also welcome volunteers to get on board, to help with either the forum itself during the first week of December or to help out with the program throughout the year!

If this program interests you in any way, please contact Kai at 613-400-1875 or by email at forum@ccgsd-ccdgs.org.

Review our 2014-2015 Report here: 2014-2015 DTSO Annual Eval Report