TY Sex Education workshops ‘Debunking the Myths’ was delighted to be featured in The Irish Times both in print and online. The article by Shelia Wayman was all about how ‘stigma is out and science is in’ at our workshops for transition-year students. Sexual health education plays a vital role in empowering young people to...
TY Sex Education workshops ‘Debunking the Myths’ was delighted to be featured in The Irish Times both in print and online. The article by Shelia Wayman was all about how ‘stigma is out and science is in’ at our workshops for transition-year students.
Sexual health education plays a vital role in empowering young people to make informed decisions about their well-being. With the advent of the internet and easy access to a wealth of information, today’s generation is exposed to numerous sources of sexual health information. However, not all of this information is accurate or reliable, leading to the proliferation of myths and misconceptions. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has taken the initiative to address this issue by conducting workshops for transition-year students, aiming to debunk sexual health myths and provide scientifically sound information.
The workshops, titled “Debunking the Myths: The Science Behind Our Sexual Health,” are organized by the RCSI’s department of obstetrics and gynaecology in collaboration with the Rotunda Hospital and funded by Science Foundation Ireland. These two-hour sessions provide a safe and open space for up to 150 teenagers from different schools in and around Dublin, to learn about contraception, male and female anatomy, menstruation, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), sexual assault, and positive aspects consent.
The workshops offer an opportunity for students to hear the facts straight from sexual health experts who are deeply involved in the community and understand the issues at hand. This approach helps eliminate stigma and complements what students learn in schools.
The workshops employ an interactive approach, where students use the Mentimeter app to respond to “true or false” polls and ask questions anonymously. This engagement allows students to explore sexual health topics openly without fear of judgment. Additionally, the sessions are live-streamed to reach a broader audience, but the in-person dimension is considered ideal as students tend to be more comfortable and receptive outside the school premises.
Dr. Fergal Malone, a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology at the Rotunda and the other co-leader of the project, emphasizes that the workshop is a safe space that aims to empower students to discuss their sexual health comfortably with friends, family, and professionals.
The workshops cover various aspects of sexual health, including contraception, sexually transmitted infections, and sexual assault. These topics are particularly important given the rising numbers of STIs reported among young people. In 2022, individuals aged 15-24 accounted for half of chlamydia cases and a third of gonorrhoea infections reported in Ireland.
One of the critical points talked about during the workshops is about the availability of free contraception for women aged 17-26 under the new scheme from the government of Ireland. Despite the introduction of the free contraception scheme, many students remain unaware of this important service.
The success of the workshops can be seen through the perspectives of speakers, students, and teachers.Students express appreciation for the opportunity to learn about sexual health without embarrassment and gain knowledge that they can share with their peers. One of our students said “he wasn’t expecting the session to be so open about sexual health matters and that such information could be shared without everybody sniggering. He thinks it is good that they could ask questions anonymously through the app because “nobody was going to put their hand up in front of everybody”. He says that he hadn’t known much about sexually transmitted infections beforehand nor how to access various services. Overall, he feels they are better informed now and could share what they had learned with their whole peer group.”
Another said she found it “really interesting and quite useful for the future. It’s nice to know that Ireland is offering these sorts of things.” She had been unaware, for instance, that the free contraception scheme for young women had started.”
The workshops also seek to debunk prevalent sexual health myths by providing evidence-based information which helps young people make better-informed decisions about their health.
Debunking The Myths workshops on sexual health serve as a crucial initiative to combat myths and misconceptions surrounding sexual health among young people. By providing accurate and reliable information in a safe and interactive environment, the project empowers youth to make informed choices and prioritise their sexual well-being. These workshops will continue to engage with thousands of students in 2023, if you wish to sign your school up, contact us at: email@example.com
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