May 21st, 2015
Another SpringBoard under our collective belts, another great day of conversation and learning. The crowd was interested, engaged and curious- not surprising given the presenters.
The duo of Evelyn Maan and Elle Pea started off with The Kids Are Alright, looking at kids and young adults who have grown up with HIV or are uninfected but had exposure to HIV drugs during their mom’s pregnancies. HIV and a planned pregnancy can end with excellent news. Evelyn shared that in the cases of moms with HIV who have had healthcare and access to HIV meds, there have been NO babies born in BC with HIV in twenty years. That’s definitely something to celebrate. Although focusing on the good news, Evelyn did briefly point out the obvious and often heartbreaking part too- for women who don’t know their HIV status or don’t have prenatal care, the outcomes aren’t as good, and babies are born with HIV.
Elle is one of the kids who is alright, although she’s actually not a kid. She’s had HIV since she was a baby and is now a young married mom with a toddler. She talked about learning her own HIV status when she was a teen, grappling with disclosure, and finding out who her friends were. She spoke out to confront stigma, and it was very powerful to hear.
Marnie Goldenberg (the Sexplainer) led session 2 in talking about how to educate kids in our lives about sexuality, relationships, and consent. I really liked her point about the “leave children innocent” claim some parents make when it comes to sex ed. Marnie pointed out that we need to take the lead as parents. We don’t wait for kids to ask about toilet training; we start when we can see a kid is ready. If a kid is asking about their body, why wouldn’t we start to talk about the proper names of parts? Why wouldn’t we talk about consent in a simple way kids can understand? Inevitably it’s because we adults have shame that’s been placed in us, and we don’t want to deal with it. We need to confront our own shame so that our kids don’t need to repeat it.
Sarah Chown and Jessica St Jean of YouthCO finished the day with a great presentation about decolonizing HIV work. They discussed the layers of work that staff at YouthCO do to encourage discussion around colonialism, and the impact it has on Indigenous youth. Multiple factors put youth at risk for HIV, running from the damaging past through the present remnants of racism and inequities. They also talked about allyship; forming relationships that work to move decolonization forward. In small groups, the audience discussed what makes a powerful ally. It was great.
Thanks to Abbvie, our exclusive pharmaceutical sponsor, for supporting the event. Many thanks to the presenters and audience members who made the day so wonderful. We will take your feedback and suggestions and look forward to next year!