As our work intersects youth health, we take pride in featuring the words of young people on our platforms at ASHWG. Today, we’ll be sharing an essay from a youth Peer Educator from Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s (PPMM) education department.
PPMM is a trusted source of sexual health information that is age-appropriate, medically accurate, inclusive and engaging. Since November 2015, PPMM Sacramento Peer Educators have provided education and outreach to thousands of teens and young adults via classroom presentations, street outreach, health fairs, and social media campaigns.
This essay was written by Madison Smith*, an activist serving among the group of Peer Educators selected to serve in the 2016-17 school year at PPMM, which includes 7 other of her peers that were recruited and carefully selected from over 30 applicants. The group was brought together for in-depth training in order to serve their schools and communities side by side with the PPMM health education team for at least 8 hours a month. This is what Madison wrote about her experience working with Planned Parenthood and empowering other youth through sexual health education.
My name is Madison Smith and I’m a peer educator for Planned Parenthood. My experience as an educator has been life-changing; I have been lucky enough to go to different high schools and observe sex education classes, conduct outreach at events in my community, pass out condoms to students at my school, stand up for Planned Parenthood at protests and events. All of these experiences have changed my views and helped me to be a part of opportunities that I would have never had the chance to take advantage of, if not for being a peer educator.
My favorite moment during volunteering occurred when I was doing outreach at my high school and I asked one student if he wanted a condom bag and his response was, “Hell yeah! Thank you so much!” His enthusiasm made me realize how much people appreciate Planned Parenthood and all of the services that they offer. It made me feel like I was actually able to make a difference in my community, even if it was a small gesture towards preventing an unwanted pregnancy.
Another great experience I had being a Peer Educator happened when I went to a local school and spoke to 6th graders about sex education, with the help of one of my mentor educators, Leticia Martinez*. She let me talk about my personal experiences to the class and even provide a little insight to the students. Having the chance to talk to them and have them look up to me for help in growing up felt great- I wish I had that kind of experience when I was that age.. I felt that what I said actually mattered and I think the kids really enjoyed having someone closer to their own age there to talk to about the stuff they were learning.
I love my volunteer position at Planned Parenthood and it has taught me that even though I am just one person, I am able to make my community a better, safer, and healthier place.
Do you want to learn more about how California schools are implementing the new standards of the California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA)? Download our new curriculum review to see how schools are implementing the new standards.
*name changed to protect individual’s privacy