This blog post is a part of the Adolescent Sexual Health Work Group (ASHWG) Subcommittee Interview Series, where we feature an in-depth Q&A with each of our organizational working groups. This first installment features the Tools and Training subcommittee, which works to identify, create and make available quality training, tools and other resources for those who work with youth to advance their sexual health and wellness. In their work, the subcommittee strives to support a diverse workforce that includes teachers, teachers’ aides, counselors, health educators, clinicians, administrators, front office staff, medical assistants, youth advocates and other youth-serving individuals, with the goal of positioning training and resources to enhance their ability to provide quality sexual and reproductive health education and services to young people in California.
We spoke with Amber Eisenmann of Essential Access Health, one of the members of the subcommittee, about her involvement with ASHWG, the current projects on which she and her peers in the Tools & Training subcommittee are working on, and solutions to improve access to sexual and reproductive health resources.
1. How did you become involved with ASHWG and how has your membership contributed to your organization’s work?
AMBER: One of my colleagues is already a member and encouraged me to join. Being a part of ASHWG has allowed me to get to know a great group of people who are working to improve adolescent access to high-quality sexual health care and education.
2. Since ASHWG works to move conversations forward on adolescent sexual and reproductive health, what kind of work is your organization doing around this theme?
AMBER: Essential Access Health has always included adolescent access to sexual health care in our work. Some of our current projects include Teen Source, an online hub for teen-friendly sexual and reproductive health information and resources, the Condom Access Project, an initiative designed to encourage safe practices and increase condom accessibility for California youth, and the annual LA event: Spring Into Love that focuses on giving young leaders a space to learn about sexual health and relationships.
3. Tell us about programs and projects that you are working on that our ASHWG audience should know about.
AMBER: I am thrilled to be part of an innovative project that was awarded funding from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unintended Pregnancy. Our team is writing scripts to be included in electronic health records to help pediatricians and their teen patients have more comfortable conversations about sexuality. Both clinicians and teens in our focus groups have been pretty enthusiastic about how the system allows for both more privacy and easier conversations around their sexual and reproductive health.
4. What are some innovative tools that the Tools and Training subcommittee is helping to create to advance youth sexual health and wellness?
AMBER: Right now, we are finishing up a list of resources related to the California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA) to give to school districts and teachers. This is innovative because this new standard of sex education not only encourages educators to use comprehensive, fact-based models in their classrooms but demands it. Our goal is to help facilitate this process for health educators and youth to contribute to this innovation.
5. How can teachers find better models to employ sex education that doesn’t rely on pictures of STI’s or outdated videos from the 1980’s?
AMBER: There are so many good resources. In fact, a group of ASHWG members just released their findings of the most widely used curricula in California and how they each align with CHYA. I encourage teachers to take advantage of these resources and to check back for our team’s innovative list of resources related to the CYHA.
Learn more about the Tools and Training subcommittee, as well as the other ASHWG subcommittees, here.
Have you downloaded our new curriculum review? Learn more about how California schools are implementing the new standards of the California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA).