2020 and 2021 were unprecedented years that presented changes to life as we knew it. For those in the Island Reproductive Health Initiative Teen Program (IRHI), they were faced with a set of unfamiliar challenges. Because of quarantine, club members were unable to hold their in-person Wednesday meetings or conduct classroom IRHI presentations about safe sex and how to put condoms on bananas or provide birth control presentations by doctors. With social distancing and virtual classrooms, many students were left with a feeling of uncertainty and unhappiness, but the IRHI community provided a way for students to share their emotions. With a safe space to turn to, members were excited to meet, even if it was only online.
Thanks to their excellent set of past leaders, Asifa Pasin and teen reps Sofia Fleming and Hazel Moe, IRHI was able to stay up and running during the height of COVID. Every other Wednesday, devoted members logged onto a Google Meet to plan for IRHI’s future, despite the uncertainty. Moe, Pasin, and Fleming were able to keep the energy alive, even over Google Meet, and found creative ways to educate our public high school students about reproductive health. When our hybrid schedule kicked off at the public school, IRHI got right back into the groove of in-person presentations.
Membership and participation remained high during COVID, but everyone was excited to return in person. An activity practiced during each meeting exemplifies this perfectly: Each member is asked to give one word that describes how they’re feeling. At the first meeting, descriptors like “excited,” “happy,” and “enthusiastic,” bubbled up, perfectly setting the tone for the rest of this year. This year has been a welcome relief from the complications and loneliness of 2020 for many students. As IRHI winds down for the year, the members reflect on their time: “The pandemic made us realize how important our mission is. We are motivated to ensure students are educated when it comes to sexual health and safety, and we plan to continue to make up for the time that’s been lost over the last years.”