In recent years, Sarasota County has experienced a significant rise in sexually transmitted disease rates. But research shows when sex education is comprehensive, young adults feel more informed, make safer choices and have healthier outcomes—resulting in fewer unplanned pregnancies and more protection against diseases.
Recent funding from Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation aims to provide the resources Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida (PPSWCF) need to increase prevention and education efforts in Sarasota County, primarily towards teenagers and young adults.
“Young people need access to honest, respectful health care and information to make responsible decisions,” says Stephanie Fraim, President and CEO of PPWSWCF. “An informed community is one that is healthy and strong. For that we appreciate the Barancik Foundation’s commitment to this vision.”
A $130,000 grant will provide access to affordable health care options to help people get tested, provide treatment, and learn about healthier sexual behavior, especially for the large population of young clients who are uninsured or from low-income homes.
Based on research that indicates teenagers prefer to talk with other teens about sensitive issues, PPSWCF launched a Peer Education Program in 2018 with support from Barancik Foundation. Teenaged paid volunteers meet weekly to receive training on sexual health topics and then work with professional staff to educate friends and fellow students at their schools or on social media.
For one Peer Educator, the experience has proven the impact of the program first-hand.
“It’s opened my eyes to a whole new perspective,” says Eden Glickman, who began training at Planned Parenthood in the Summer of 2019. “I was privileged to grow up in a home with parents who are open and supportive. But so many of my friends don’t have an adult they can talk to or trust about these issues. They feel more comfortable talking about it with someone like me.”
Funding will also expand efforts to provide prevention education in jails and addiction and recovery programs that primarily serve women. Professional counselors aim to deliver medically-based information and resources to prevent unintended pregnancies, diseases, and reduce the occurrence of dating and domestic violence.
“Everyone deserves this education. It’s a central part of life. Sometimes it’s just talking to someone about what a healthy relationship looks like, how they should be treated,” says Glickman.