National Health Corps Chicago Blog

I have to admit that sexual health and its impact is not a hot topic at the American Cancer Society, my host site. It is also not a part of my colon cancer screening education presentation that I do as a health educator. Nonetheless, I realize that sexual health and its impact has a tremendous effect on how we live our lives.
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The Princeton Vision Clinic, where I serve as a Chicago Health Corps member, is open to all Chicagoland students and provides comprehensive eye exams and glasses at no cost. Around 70% of patients seen at the clinic need eyeglasses and around 20% of patients are diagnosed with an eye condition that impacts their learning. Uncorrected low vision, eye conditions, and eye disorders not only affect students in the classroom, they affect them recreationally too. With this vision program, students have the opportunity to receive glasses that can help them improve their classroom performance, hand-eye coordination during sports, and self-esteem.
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As a health educator with Erie Family Health Center, I spend much of my time in and out of various Chicago Public Schools, talking with students about sexual health. I present on a wide range of topics from anatomy to healthy relationships to sexual identities. These discussions often push students and educators to discuss the weighty topics that might not otherwise pop up in everyday classroom conversation.
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Since April is recognized as National STI Awareness Month, the Get Yourself Tested campaign kicked off on April 1st this year to address the sky-high rates of sexually transmitted infections by encouraging young people to get tested. Chicago Health Corps members Brynn, Caitlin, Marissa, and Whitney at Erie Family Health Center not only incorporate information on STIs into their sexual health education curriculum, but have also launched their own adolescent health campaign.
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"When I reflect on my own sexual health education in high school, I remember very little. I do however recall my teacher fitting a condom over her arm— telling us to “not ever let a guy tell you he’s too big to wear a condom,”—but that was the extent of my education. It was up to us to figure out the rest on our own, either through our parents (if we were lucky) or friends."
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"For some, joining AmeriCorps is an easy decision. It’s an amazing opportunity to work in a potential field of interest and give back to your community. But for others, like me, I was terrified. But I decided to take the leap into the unknown, knowing that no matter what happened, this experience would teach me more about my city, how to help others and about myself."
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