Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sex education key in preventing teen pregnancy

EDUCATING: Kizanne James, an advocate for the health and rights of women and girls, has developed a smartphone app as part of the WCDA Project launched on October 15. The app contains information about different types of contraception and where to find them, across Trinidad and Tobago.


Teenage pregnancy cases continue to rise in Trinidad and Tobago.
Worrying statistics show that there are over 2,500 teen pregnancies recorded in Trinidad and Tobago each year. But as the troublesome statistics continue to rise, there are young ambassadors among us who are finding solutions and taking a proactive role in preventing teenage pregnancies.
One such ambassador is Kizanne James, an emerging young leader, who has been chosen as one of ten World Contraception Day Ambassadors (WCDA), from around the world, as part of the WCDA Project, which was launched on October 15.
WCDA is a project in partnership between Women Deliver and Bayer. In support of World Contraception Day (WCD), Women Deliver and Bayer have partnered with youth advocates from across the globe to use digital storytelling tools to uncover the state of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. WCD takes place on September 26 every year. The annual worldwide campaign centres on a vision where every pregnancy is wanted. Launched in 2007, WCD’s mission is to improve awareness of contraception and to enable young people to make informed choices on their sexual and reproductive health.
Young leaders

The young leaders are selected as the result of a rigorous application process. The 2016 class has 200 youth advocates from 94 countries and every region of the world. The year’s project aims to reach even more diverse communities, from micro populations to the transgender community, and will integrate technology and advocacy in powerful and innovative ways.
The project equips young people with the skills they need to collect and share digital stories about young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, with a particular focus on access to contraception in their home countries.
Each ambassador was given seed grants of US$5,000 to support digital storytelling projects raising awareness and supporting positive communications in communities about access to contraception and young people’s sexual and reproductive health.
As part of the project, James, an advocate for the health and rights of women and girls, has developed an app for phones that contains information about different types of contraception and where to find them, across Trinidad and Tobago.
James is an award winning youth leader and medical doctor passionate about youth empowerment and development. She is one of 200 young people chosen from 104 countries for the Women Deliver Young Leaders Program, where she advocates for the health and rights of women and girls.
Unsafe sexual choices

With over 15 years’ experience in youth leadership and volunteerism James has represented Trinidad and Tobago, regionally and internationally. The Chevening Scholar has also been recognised by the University of the Southern Caribbean as the Most Outstanding Young Alumni 2015 and The University of the West Indies from where she received the Primer Award for Leadership 2016, Award for Outstanding Leadership 2015 and Excellence in Leadership 2016.
James said there is great need for comprehensive sexual education in Trinidad and Tobago. “Often I would have the opportunity to meet and discuss with young people, aspects related to their sexual practices. Unfortunate to say many of them even though they were sexually active lacked proper understanding and made unsafe sexual choices.
“From the young man who once told me that he was not afraid of contracting the HIV/AIDS virus because he frequently used antibiotics, to the young girl who didn’t think she could get pregnant if she used certain sex positions, the lifelong implications of unsafe sexual practices are too great for discussions about sex and sexuality to be taboo and it impacts young people’s social and economic stability at present and in the long term.
“Young people are not only the future but they are the present and if we want to see Trinidad and Tobago reach its full potential we need to invest in the social aspect of young people’s lives, especially at this vulnerable stage in their development. Young people in Trinidad and Tobago need the avenues to voice their concerns and our interventions must be tailored to their needs,” said James.
“Prevention should always be the foundation of any strategy to target youth. The emphasis should be on assisting them in understanding their roles and responsibilities as sexual beings in an unbiased, factual and comprehensive manner using mediums young people in Trinidad and Tobago can relate to.
“To accomplish this in Trinidad and Tobago, Kheston Walkins, PhD candidate and Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative participant instituted by US President Obama and Ms Charlie Ann St Cyr, founder and director of Girls With Roots, a non-profit NGO aimed at empowering young people in the Caribbean and I are embarking on doing just that.
“We are using technology in the form of a phone application to provide accurate and timely information about contraception and where they could be accessed in Trinidad and Tobago. We are also developing a documentary which will highlight the stories of young people in this country to spark discussions about their experiences with contraception.
“Our hope is to see Trinbagonian young people equipped with the right information to make right sexual choices and that our project, which will start in Trinidad and Tobago will be a model for countries around the world,” James said.
James said women’s attitudes and opinions towards contraception are diverse. “They seem to be rooted in many factors including religion and culture. Over the next few months we will be collecting many more stories,” James said. In December James, along with other WCD ambassadors, will launch their individual projects. To find out more about the project, follow WCD on social media and visit the project’s website www.wcdambassadors.