Normalizing Sexual Health
OneWorld cultivates trust with teens through education, resources and fun
Sexual health is an important, but often uncomfortable topic. Luis Vazquez, OneWorld Sexual Health Outreach Manager, and his team spend their days working in the community to help normalize conversations about sexual health and connect teenagers to resources.
“Creating an impact on young people requires a team to be dynamic and present in terms of understanding the realities of what it means to be an adolescent in the 21st century,” Luis said. “Being present is super important in order for us to build trust and relationships with young people in the community.”
Another level of presence is providing resources to meet their needs. OneWorld’s Teen and Young Adult Health Centers help adolescents receive the care they need without fear.
“We have generous donors and programs that help provide medicine for free,” said Luis. “These clinics give young people more security about seeking out resources, normalizes sexual health and helps teens feel secure.”
In addition to hosting sexual health classes outside of the classroom, the sexual health outreach team connects with teens through Omaha Teen Generation, a group of adolescent peer educators affiliated with OneWorld and the Adolescent Health Project.
This group of 15 students from five high schools in the Omaha area is dedicated to helping others learn about sexual health and creating new ways to reach and educate teens about their health.
While the Covid-19 pandemic paused in person events, the group focused on reaching adolescents through social media and other virtual methods.
“OneWorld understands the contributions the young generation has to offer, so when they have an idea, we help bring it to life,” said Luis.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Omaha Teen Generation hosted dances, movie nights and game nights at the OneWorld Livestock Exchange Health campus. These events provided teens with a safe space to unplug and enjoy themselves.
“We mixed and matched things to do for adolescents and resources to help teens get the help they need,” said Luis. “During these events we kept the Quick Sick clinic open so teens could confidentially get tested for a sexually transmitted infection or speak to a clinician about birth control if they wanted. We hope to resume these events when it’s safe because they help meet teens’ needs.”
For Luis, normalizing sexual health is an investment in the future.
“I want to be an inspiration for teens, and a trustworthy person for them to turn to as they’re developing into adults,” said Luis. “My hope is that one day the kids I work with will take what my team does and make it even better for the next generation.”
At OneWorld, We Care for All People.