( Chicago ) - Planned Parenthood of Illinois ( PPIL ) has launched My Body. My Story.- a youth-led campaign designed to increase sexual health education and access to birth control for 13-19 year olds in Illinois.
My Body. My Story. aims to educate youth about all of Planned Parenthood's services with a focus on birth control options through:
- Workshops for both youth and adults via community organizations and school presentations
- Social media platforms ( Instagram and Facebook ), which creatively engage youth in learning about birth control and sexual health
- Outreach activities that engage youth and adult allies one-on-one
PPIL's Youth Advisory Board helped develop the campaign's core principles, materials, and strategies for reaching their peers across the state. The group consists students ages 15-18 from Chicagoland high schools including; Lane Tech College Prep, New Trier High School, Oak Park and River Forest High School, Homewood-Flossmoor High School, Lindblom Math and Science Academy, and Garner Comer College Prep.
"I became involved because I believe that every person should have the choice to the type of care they need," said Sydney Pauta, Youth Advisory Board member and Lane Tech College Prep student. "Whether it is [general] health care or access to birth control, no one but yourself should be able to decide what's best for you. I think this is important for everyone, especially for teens."
The political climate and attacks on access to health care has created a wave of engagement at all ages, "After the election, birth control was and is threatened by our president, " said Raina Bailey, Youth Advisory Board member and student at Homewood-Flossmoor High School student. "It truly made me realize how important it is to people all over the country, and I wanted to educate myself and others on it [through the campaign]. Awareness and support of Planned Parenthood is a huge step towards ensuring its future."
Libby Shafer, Campaign Coordinator, has been working closely with the Youth Advisory Board throughout the campaign development, providing them the opportunity to exercise their leadership skills, contribute essential insights, and foster a sense of ownership around the campaign. "When it comes to birth control, many youth learn from and trust their friend's and family's stories. Too often youth don't receive comprehensive, medically accurate sexual health education," Shafer explained. "The Youth Advisory Board helped design the campaign to serve as an inclusive space for youth to feel empowered by sharing their own stories about birth control and sexual health. The members of the Youth Advisory Board want to break the taboos about sex and sexual health, encourage youth to discuss these issues, learn from the facts and each other, and take advantage of the affordable and confidential services Planned Parenthood provides."
Some Youth Advisory Board members receive sexual health at school, but the information isn't geared toward their age group. Alexee Aitken, Youth Advisory Board member and Lindblom Math and Science Academy student explains, "My school's sex-ed program has good information but tries very hard to appeal to me and my peers. The campaign is to appeal people like me through things I want to see and hear."
As the campaign proceeds, the youth will continue to help create educational materials, promote the campaign in their schools and organizations, and form partnerships with various youth boards across the state.
"By providing in-person education for youth and adults we seek to decrease barriers for young people accessing birth control and sexual health services," said Jennifer Welch, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Illinois. "My Body. My Story. also validates youth voices through storytelling, to educate and inspire other teens."
My Body. My Story creates a platform where young people can share their stories to help dismantle negative stigmas surrounding birth control and sexual health, learn realistic information, and empower other youth to access the birth control method that may be right for them.
Planned Parenthood of Illinois ( PPIL ) provides affordably priced high-quality reproductive health care services throughout Illinois. Through health care services, educational programs and advocacy efforts, PPIL works to ensure and protect the reproductive health and rights of each individual. For more information, visit www.ppil.org .