As the Health Resource Center Coordinator at Reading High School, October’s “Let’s Talk” Month brought so many topics to mind, I couldn’t even pick just one.
I thought about the small HRC room and what those four walls are really all about and when it comes down to it, it’s just about talking! So, it’s fitting to be talking about “Let’s Talk” Month and the talking we do in the name of healthy teens and safe sex.
I feel so fortunate that as part of my job, I get to be the person that RHS students (grades 9-12) can come talk to about absolutely anything.
The HRC is supported by a group of youth from RHS, our Berks Teens Matter Youth Ambassadors. They spread the word about what the HRC has to offer and run a number of health campaigns throughout the school year, including National Condom Week, Healthy Relationships Month, STD Month, and World AIDS Day.
In addition, they are educated on some of the popular topics that I cover in the HRC, so they’re experts too, supporting and educating peers in their community. They answer so many questions from fellow students!
But if a student needs more information or just needs a private space to be able to talk openly, a Youth Ambassador refers them to me. Our YAs are educated on topics like healthy relationships, anatomy, consent, safe sex, contraceptives, and STDs.
Each week brings new challenges, lots of questions and new students. And I see returning students, too. All students are seen one-on-one and free of charge. Sometimes they’re easy questions to answer and sometimes they’re hard for students to ask, but there are no questions off limits.
I’ve had questions about what the menstrual cycle is and how to know where they are in their cycle in order to prevent pregnancy. I’ve been asked questions like, “How do I tell which one is, ya’ know…THE hole?”
Sometimes it takes students finding a comfort level to “get it out”, but I remind them that there is no wrong way to ask a question. And at the HRC, there’s no judging for asking it!
Most of all, I am inspired by the students that visit the HRC. Coming to a place like the HRC where they know they can get information and take a part in their responsibility of being educated on the facts, it’s brave and it’s something to be proud of. I love being the person on the other side of that door who says,
“Hi, I’m Alex! Let’s Talk!”
Alex Banks is the coordinator for the Health Resource Center and the Youth Ambassador program for Berks Teens Matter. To reach her or find out more information, firstname.lastname@example.org.