Monday, August 12, 2013

Key Area 1: Healthy Bodies --> a personal story

There are three key areas that CSHC is focused on: Healthy Bodies, Healthy Relationships and Healthy Communities. These focus areas speak to the core of our work; they support our vision for the community and the mission we are on to achieve it.

In this series of blogs, we present some of our success stories  that highlight a program from each of our three focus areas.
In this blog, we look at a "Healthy Bodies" story:

Eve’s Story: Reclaiming Healthy Sexuality

She started the program wondering why she was even there. She left wondering what she would’ve done without it.

“Eve* started the program thinking she didn’t really need it,” says Becky Van Tassel, Training Centre Coordinator with Calgary Sexual Health Centre. Eve was taking part in the Reclaiming Healthy Sexuality program as part of an addictions treatment program.

Reclaiming Healthy Sexuality is a Calgary Sexual Health Centre program that fills a critical need. Aimed at women who have had negative sexual experiences, Reclaiming is an intensive program that helps women look at their own bodies and sexuality in a new, healthier way. In Eve’s case, she experienced sexual assault as an adult.

“Often it empowers women to address something they’ve never talked about,” Van Tassel says. “We provide the tools and information so that women can make healthy choices for themselves in the future.”

Talking about their bodies is one of the most important parts of the program. From discussing anatomy to exploring how to be aware of your own body and its reactions, clients like Eve benefit from the group discussions.

Healthy decision-making with
"Head Heart Body"

The program is only offered to those already accessing social programs, so participants can receive follow-up support as they move forward. Van Tassel admits that it’s difficult work for the women involved. One aspect of the program called Head, Heart, Body helps participants make healthy decisions about sexuality.

“At the end of it, women acknowledge that they may not have made a decision that way before and it can be uncomfortable, but they know that in the future they have a tool so they can aim to not regret future decisions.”

One of the most powerful parts of the program is not what the facilitators teach the participants, but what they teach other.

“They really bond over their common experiences and help each other,” says Van Tassel. “We see really diverse groups and you often see older women sharing their wisdom or younger women helping the older participants see things in a different light. And then it builds their own self esteem that they’ve had something valuable to share with someone else and they could give support. ”

“We talk about the fact that regardless of what you’ve experienced, there is hope and the way you feel about sex and sexuality can change,” says Van Tassel. “Women can really leave with a sense of hope.”

*names have been changed.

Healthy Bodies

When we understand our bodies, we take care of them, feel good about them, and make good decisions about our sexual health.

We are the only non-profit organization in Calgary delivering comprehensive programs and services that address sexual health issues. Our programs emphasize the need to be aware of your own body and take care of it, whether that means using birth control and getting tested for STIs,  or reclaiming your own sexuality.