Perhaps you recall their demonstrations concerning pizza, condoms, and zucchinis, or maybe you have seen the posters in the bathrooms advocating, “don’t be silly” and “cover your willy.” The group that promotes these memorable slogans is IRHI, the Island Reproductive Health Initiative. Lead by your fellow classmates, this organization is dedicated to reducing teen pregnancy and promoting healthy sexual health in teens by providing resources, doing presentations, and ensuring that the island’s youth are educated on sexual health and safe sex techniques.
Formed in 2009 in response to the demand for confidential and affordable health care, IRHI’s membership has exploded in recent years, with 22 teen representatives meeting twice every month. In addition to teaching students at Orcas Island School District aboutsexual health, IRHI also provides accessible, reliable, and confidential health care and resources for those who need it.
“My favorite part of IRHI is helping my peers and knowing I have the information I need to make educated decisions,” says Sofia Fleming, sophomore and teen representative of IRHI. “Educating youth is so important; IRHI is a unique way to include youth in that education. Sexual health is serious but it is also not something to be scared or embarrassed about.”
Since the 2000s, the number of preventable sexually transmitted diseases and infections in the United States has been steadily creeping up. However, instead of combating this concerning growth, formal education programs regarding the teaching of safe sex have actually been declining, with only 10 percent of girls and six percent of boys reporting having been taught about birth control in high school since 2006. This is why IRHI is more important than ever, making sure that our community is well informed about the birds and the bees.
For more information, contact Beth Jenson at firstname.lastname@example.org, or talk to any of the IRHI teen representatives. They will be happy to answer any of your questions.