There are a number of fun, easy, and interesting ways to promote sexual health and responsibility in the residence halls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 65 million people in the United States are infected with an incurable STD. Young adults are particularly at risk for STDs and unintended pregnancy because they often have multiple partners and have received little, if any, education on sexual health and responsibility. Many young adults are unaware of resources for prevention information, treatment options, and safer sex supplies. Most lack skills needed for effective partner communication. Many of our residents are interested in gaining knowledge about responsible sexual behavior but are not sure how to go about gaining this knowledge.
As a Resident Assistant how can you go about educating your residents about sexuality and safe sex? I’ve listed a number of traditional and passive programming ideas as well as resources for information.
Active Programming ideas
Informal Q & A:
The most successful program I’ve had involved inviting a health educator to just sit and informally answer questions about sexual health. The Q & A lasted nearly three hours and I’ve had requests to do it again this year. I advertised for the event by hanging up flyers all over my hall. The flyers had questions such as “What do I do if I miss a pill” and “How soon is too soon to get a pregnancy test.” I collected questions from the women on my floor and gave them to the health educator about 3 weeks before the program. I waited to do the program until I felt my floor would be comfortable discussing sexual health around each other.
Sex-Tac-Toe is a fun program that tends to get people laughing. What you need are myths and facts about sexual health (including abstinence), terminology, condoms, something to practice putting condoms on with, and a large board that you can write on or attach Xs and Os to. This program works best with a larger number of people. Divide everyone into two groups (X and O) and let each group select a spokesperson to answer the questions. The program itself is simple, ask the first group a question such as “name the STD which causes cervical cancer.” If the group gets the question right (the answer is HPV or genital warts) they get the square. If the group answers wrong, the other group gets to answer that question and the next question, assuming they get the first one right. One of the questions should ask how to put on a latex condom and one volunteer for that group needs to describe and show how to do this.
Sexual Jeopardy is another interactive game. Make a large game board with title headings such as “STDS, Birth Control, Abstinence, Sexual Assault, Sex and Alcohol, and Communication.” Have these headings over small slots and stuff the slots with an information card that has a question on the front and an answer on the back. It would be a good idea to team up with another RA for this program. One RA can read the question, and the other RA can elaborate on the answer.
Condom Bingo is another great program. Find a place that is willing to donate large quantities of condoms, which will be used as bingo chips. Have each person fill out a bingo sheet with terms that you have listed on a large sheet of paper. Have each bingo square correspond with a particular definition. Each person has to figure out which terms the definitions go to and place a condom on that term. The terms and definitions should be specific, some examples could include masturbation, Herpes, rape, Roofies, female condoms, dental dams, rimming, fellatio, morning after pill, Depo-Provera, sex toys, etc. You can decide if a person must fill up the whole sheet or just a section.
Passive Programming Ideas:
There are a number of ways to passively educate your floor about sexual responsibility. Door hangers and bulletin boards work well. My floor’s bathroom stalls have refillable slots for pamphlets and flyers on sexual health. You could also laminate materials and hang them in shower stalls. I keep condoms, spermicides, and lubes in the study lounge and bathrooms and have large fact sheets on STDs and birth control hanging up around my floor.
Where to go for more information:
If you would like to find out more information on sexual responsibility I would recommend visiting your school’s health education division and departments of Health Science, Public Health, Medicine, or Nursing. You should also contact your nearest Department of Public Health and Title X-funded family planning clinic for safer sex supplies and information. Local health educators and health education students can be a big help. Local novelty shops will often donate prizes for the interactive games.
Submitted by By Lindsay Conrad, Resident Assistant, Ball State University