A little over a year after Jay and I began work on the latest version of YTH’s TECHsex research project, we are hitting the road again for a tour of our local partners in the South to share our findings, provide recommendations, and brainstorm with them about youth sexual and reproductive health and rights. While we have been working to finalize the report, we were looking forward to our “road show” trip to reconnect with our wonderful partners in the South who made our focus groups possible. Over the course of five days, Jay and I will visit Tunica Teens in Action, University of Alabama at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, and Louisiana Public Health Institute (LPHI).
Tunica was the first city in which we conducted focus groups, and it was a great way to start. It was our first snapshot of how young people use tech for their health in the South, and gave a good introduction to the different perspectives and experiences of young people in the other regions we would visit. Youth in Tunica told us about how they were concerned with teen pregnancy rates, how their community was recovering from a cyberbullying-related death, and how family was an incredible asset in learning about sexual and reproductive health.
When we visited Birmingham, we listened to very similar stories. Young people also told us about how they experience online harassment and aggression in video game chats, and how they perceive their age group as caring more about their online and social media identities than sexually transmitted infections.
Our last stop in the South was New Orleans. We had an incredible time meeting with young people there: they told us stories about how rare it was to find a school that offered comprehensive sex education in their district, and how the only public hospital with mental health inpatient services had been closed in the last year.
We are excited to see all of our wonderful partners in Tunica, Birmingham, and New Orleans, again. We have been fortunate enough to keep in touch with some of the young people we met in our focus groups, and will be hoping we can see them as well. It is a very special opportunity for us to close the loop, so to speak, to revisit the people who made this report possible and whose voices we are representing. We are looking forward to continuing our conversations around some of the challenges they are facing, and identifying some potential solutions to make sexual and reproductive health information and rights both accessible and equitable in the South.
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