Archive for the ‘Sense Project’ Category

Sense Project 2016-2017: A Visioning Year!

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Dear Sense Project community,

As you may have noticed, Sense has remained quiet this September, a time that is usually effervescent for us. Don’t be worried, the project is still well and alive. That being said, this year is particular, and will usher in some changes to our program. As such, we’re focusing this year on evaluating the project and visioning for the future of the Sense Project.

In the decade since the elimination of sexual education as a formal part of the mandatory curriculum by the Quebec government in 2005, the Sense Project has been on the ground, running a successful sex education program.  The program solidified its expertise and influence, and youth interest in volunteering to animate workshops increased along with demand from schools, which grew each year. Coordinating and updating the project has become an increasingly complicated task. This year, we want to take stock of where we have come since the project’s creation, and be deliberate about the impact we want to create in the years to come.

On top of that, Quebec government announced the reintegration of mandatory sexual education in the province’s schools in 2017, with a pilot project starting this year.

The Sense Project needs a visioning year so we can reflect on how we can make the important work we do sustainable and intentional, in addition to reframe it in Quebec’s schools upcoming context. During this year of evaluation, minimal services will still be provided to some schools. However, our focus is on rethinking the format and the goals of the project. This is why we chose not to train new volunteers this year.

We appreciate any support and feedback from our community in order to make the visioning process as rich and reflective  as possible. If you have any comments or concerns you would like to share, please get in touch with me via email, phone or in person a the Head & Hands office.

More than anything, we are incredibly grateful for all the interest, work, and love that have been put in the Sense Project by schools, students, Sensies, community partners, and Head & Hands staff.

We are eager to start renewed and stronger than ever in fall 2017!

Charlie, Health Educator and Coordinator of the Sense Visioning and the Head & Hands team

Our new health educator

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As sad as we are to say goodbye to Gabrielle after six years at Head & Hands, we are also so pleased to welcome Charlie as our new Health Educator! Charlie is joining our team to lead our visioning process of the Sense Project.

Karaoke star queer weirdo raised by virgo lesbian moms in Montreal’s East side, Charlie completed an internship at the Center for Gender Advocacy last year. With a background in social work, he’s very excited to share his knowledge of sexual health, help us create social change, and lead the next chapter of strong, fierce sex-positivity at Head & Hands.

Ask him anything, especially about Céline Dion or gonorrhea; despite being only 24, he’s a huge Celine dork, and he thinks that everyone should get the chance to learn all there is to know about gonorrhea!

IT’S TIME! (for our Fall Fundraising Fun-omenon): PARCours!

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(I know “Fun-omenon” is a stretch, let me have it).

parcour pitch pt. ii

CLICK ME TO SEE THE FULL POSTER!!

 

Well dear readers it’s time for our annual fall fundraising to benefit our amazing Head & Hands Health Services: Street Work, Medical Services, and the Sense Project!

As you know (because you are a devoted and loving fan) every fall we take part in fundraising for our amazing health services, with a focus on supporting HIV/AIDS communities! This year, organizations from around Montreal and Quebec have an opportunity to come together to not only meet continued needs in our communities, but also work together in a celebration of progress as we look towards the future.

You: “Wait, wait, wait…so what’s happening?” 

I’ll tell you! On October 2nd, 2016, we will be coming together with other incredible organizations for PARCours. This event is all about togetherness and helping one another in our diverse efforts for supporting HIV/AIDS communities!

The event will also be local to Head & Hands!!! We will be walking, dancing, rolling, moving, and celebrating in the streets around Parc Girouard in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, before a fun-filled (hopefully not too cold) park hang!

You: “This sounds so amazing I’m so hype and excited! How can I get involved?” 

There are so many ways that you can support us! I’m so so happy that you want to, thank you so much in your interest!!

  1. You can support us by joining us on our journey. Do you want to join as an individualDo you want to create a team and fundraise with your friends? YOU CAN DO BOTH OF THOSE THINGS!
  2. You can volunteer or come on the day to dance with us or eat!
  3. You can donate to an individual or to Head & Hands as a whole! 

You: “So let’s say I decide to donate. What does my donation even do?” 

Supporting PARCours means supporting Head & Hands’ amazing health services: the free medical clinic, our peer-based sex-ed Sense Project, and our Street Work Program! Last year, we raised $26,000 for our health services, and we can’t wait to reach even higher! We want to continue to meet youth where they’re at and give them the support that they need, but we can’t do it without the amazing relationships we build with our donors!

To find out more about what your gifts make possible, you can read our 2016 Annual Report,.

You: “Quick question… Why ‘PARCours’?” 

In French, parcours is a journey or a path. For us, this year’s event is just that! All different organizations, with all different styles, working towards the same goal and taking the same route along the way. And of course, we’ll be in Parc Girouard!

You: I WANT TO KNOW SO MUCH MORE INFORMATIONS!! 

I KNOW YOU DO, BECAUSE YOU’RE THE BEST!
To know more, you can email Richenda at membres@headandhands.ca, or Cinder at specialprojects@headandhands.ca – we’re here to answer each and every concern!
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Why Join Ça Marche 2015? Because Sex Ed Makes Sense

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While watching our very own Funding and Partnerships Coordinator, Victoria, lead an interview featured on CBC News’s The National where she discussed the importance of sex-ed and our sexual health services, I felt an immense sense of pride to be working for an NGO that really makes a difference in the community. Since the 2005 Secondary School Reform which effectively removed sex education from the school curriculum in Quebec, regular school teachers who don’t always have the expertise necessary to properly educate young people have been providing informal sex-ed classes. It has become abundantly clear that projects such as our peer-based sex-ed program, The Sense Project, now active in 13 schools are more essential than ever. As Victoria puts it, “Training is so important! You would never send an untrained math teacher into a classroom.” This lack of education is perhaps reflected in the Institut National de Santé Publique’s 2013-2014 statistical report on Québec sexual health, which shows that the Chlamydia incidence rate within the 15 to 24 demographic has steadily increased. Nevertheless, sex-ed is not only a matter of educating youth about STDs, issues concerning consent, body image, sexual orientation, cultural sensitivity, quality and gender identity are equally important which is why The Sense Project is so valuable.

While Québec’s provincial government is reviewing its sex-ed policies and deciding on whether to implement its mandatory sex- ed pilot project, programs such as The Sense Project which has developed comprehensive workshops, definitely help fill in the gap.

Every year we raise money for HIV prevention, education, and support services for youth. Ça Marche is more that an annual HIV/AIDS walk; it is vital for the simple fact that funds raised during this time will help finance core programs and services such as the Sense Project!

You can sign up here to join the fundraising team!

Or donate to the team here!

Want to be a Sense Project Volunteer for the 2015-16 school year?

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We are currently seeking new volunteers for the 2015-16 school year!

Interested in facilitating sex ed workshops with youth in high schools? Getting involved with the Sense Project at Head & Hands is a fantastic opportunity to learn, grow and support the well-being of youths in Montreal. Be a part of the magic of the Sense Project as we embark on new changes and visioning in this 10th year of sex ed!

About Head & Hands

Head & Hands is a community organization in NDG that services youth aged 12-25 across the city of Montreal. Since 1970, Head & Hands has been committed to the overall health and well-being of youth, providing holistic services and programs. Our approach is harm/risk reductive, holistic and non-judgemental which is especially important for one of our most important programs: The Sense Project.

About The Sense Project

The Sense Project is Head & Hands’ by youth for youth sexual education program. In 2005, sex ed was phased out of the public high school curriculum resulting in a huge gap in youth’s health education. Over the past decade, the Sense Project has been filling that gap with comprehensive, holistic and inclusive sex ed that centers youth and their needs. Our workshops create space for youth to learn about and discuss topics such as anatomies, genders, STIs, consent culture and more. Head & Hands firmly believes that youth have the right to accurate and accessible information in order to make empowered decisions about their health and lives.

Sense Volunteers a.k.a. “Sensies” are the face of the Sense Project. As a Sensie, your role is to contribute to the program by facilitating sex ed workshops and/or supporting the development of the Sense Project. It is especially important to embody the principles of Head & Hands and our approach which means meeting youth where they’re at. Sensies will have the opportunity to participate in an extensive training in which you’ll learn more about sex, Head & Hands’ approach, allyship and how to facilitate workshops for youth. The goal is to help equip you with the tools and resources to be able to do your own reflective learning and then share with your peers.

Interested? Here are the requirements:

  • New applicants must be aged 25 and under.
  • Volunteers should be committed to Head & Hands’ principles of anti-oppression, risk reduction, and non-judgment.
  • Volunteers should have some availability on weekdays during the day. Throughout the school year, your amount of volunteering is highly dependent on your availabilities and the workshop requests made by schools and organizations.
  • Bilingualism is not mandatory, but it’s an asset! The training will be bilingual (ENG-FR).
  • It’s also an asset if you have previous animation experience or experience working with youth.
  • It is mandatory to attend the full volunteer training (dates listed below).
  • Animators must commit for an entire school year and in taking part in any additional trainings for the Sense Project.

Training dates

If you meet these criteria, please complete a volunteer form and send it to Gabrielle at healthed@headandhands.ca. The deadline to apply is Monday, August 24th at 10 AMWe’ll then book a short screening interview with prospective volunteers.

If you have any questions, feel free to call Shanice at (514) 481-0277!

Volunteer Form Sense Project 2015-16

Donor News: “Your Body is Okay!” Our Sense Project Coordinator Talks Body Diversity, Beauty Standards, and Sexual Performance Anxiety

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Gab, Sense Project Coordinator

Gab, Sense Project Coordinator

 

Ontario’s new comprehensive sexual education curriculum, revised last year, shows just how much Quebec is lagging when it comes to equipping youth with the information they need to make empowered sexual decisions.  Since sex education was effectively removed from the Quebec curriculum in 2005, rates of STIs as well as dating and sexual violence have risen steadily among teens. For the past ten years, youth volunteers trained through Head & Hands’ Sense Project have been working tirelessly to fill the gaps by leading workshops on gender and sexuality, safer sex, and consent to youth in schools, group homes, and CEGEPs.

This year’s most popular workshop explores questions of body and genital diversity, society’s beauty standards, and sexual performance anxiety. According to Sense Project Coordinator Gab, one of the ways through which today’s youth are exposed to unrealistic beauty standards and sexual expectations – and one of the topics they’re most eager to talk about –  is porn.

“The reality is, youth are watching porn, so we need to be having frank discussions with them on how a lot of mainstream porn is made,” Gab explains. “It’s a performance and what’s not shown is communication and consent.”

Gab also discusses how porn can impact body image and expectations: “Makeup is used to change the colour of genitals, but our workshops set the record straight: genitalia come in all shapes and sizes, and can range from pale pink to dark brown. Casting, editing, and filming make it so bodies look and perform in a very specific way; so we talk to youth about having realistic expectations of their bodies and their partners’ bodies.

The response to the workshops has been incredibly positive.  For many youth, it’s their only opportunity to ask burning questions to peer-educators, knowing they won’t be judged! There’s a strong need for more workshops, but resources are limited. “These days, everyone’s budget is limited, so we don’t always get paid and we’re often underpaid for the workshops we give; but we don’t turn down an opportunity to give much needed sex education for youth, even if we have to do it for free.”

The Sense Project depends on community giving, which means that we need you to help this project expand and reach more youth. As Gab explains, “There’s nothing like seeing the sigh of relief from a youth when you tell them their body is okay.”

 

10 years and 10 facts about the SERVE TOURNAMENT!

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serveis10

 *image descriptions to come!*

Hey H&H community!

My name is Kay and I am this year’s Serve Tournament Coordinator! (Not gonna lie – I practiced saying that a few times in the mirror leading up to my interview for this position.) I am so excited to get to work with the incredible team at Head & Hands to help produce this year’s Serve Tournament, in support of the amaaazing Sense Project!

Given that this is actually the TENTH year of Serve, I figured I’d give you one fact about Serve for every year we’ve been around, and sprinkle in some fun tidbits about me here and there too so we can get to know each other a little better. Ready?

FACT #1: This year’s Serve tournament is taking place Sunday July 26, which is 168 days before the end of the year, and 1+6+8 is 15, and 15 is the age I was when I came out to my little sister (she said “I don’t care what gender they are, I don’t want to think about you kissing *anybody*!!” … fair enough, sis.)

image description: two cute little girls, one 4 and one 2. they are both white and blonde. the one on the left is wearing a giant straw hat, a striped grey and white shirt with a pink and yellow shirt underneath. she is reaching out to her left toward her younger sister, who is wearing a similar giant straw hat, a long sleeved white shirt and a floral dress overtop. she is also reaching out and touching her sister on the shoulder. this is me and my sister in the 90s!
me and my sis!

 

FACT#2: The Sense Project was created in 2005 in response to the Quebec education reform, which virtually eliminated sexual health education from the high school curriculum. In 2005, I created a patented rag-on-the-end-of-a-broom technique to chase spiders out of a boathouse without having to directly touch them with my hands, which means that Sense and I are all about YOUTH INGENUITY.

image description: colour photo of a brown striped dock spider centered in frame, with text. the image is titled "dock spider facts" in white text with a green background, and various facts surround the spider, in brown circles with white text. the facts, going clockwise, are as follows: "they can swim!" "they can catch fish!" "they carry the egg sac in their fangs!" and "they walk on water!"
terrifying.

 

FACT#3: Since the beginning of Sense Project, some 300 volunteers have been trained as workshop facilitators, providing holistic and non-judgmental info on everything from sex to how our bodies work to consent to relationships to safer drug and alcohol use. I am also a trained peer sexual health facilitator through this wicked project in Toronto called Empower! Youth and I am super passionate about youth and sexual health promotion.

image description: photo of a person standing with their back to us, their hands are on their hips and we can only see from their waist down. they are wearing light blue mom jeans with a skinny brown belt. different hands of people of different races are reaching towards this person's epic butt.
this is actually my butt.

 

FACT#4: The Serve Tournament was actually started by a group of restaurant employees to help raise money for Serve and contribute to their community, and it’s been a raging success ever since.

FACT#5: Last year’s Serve tournament raised $40,400 for youth sexual health education!

FACT #6: Head&Hands (perhaps unsurprisingly) is home to a number of Virgos. My dad is a Virgo! So either we are all going to enjoy some brutal puns together or argue about politics. Or maybe both – time will tellllll.

image description: a black and white illustration of wings, with black lines stretching up from the bottom of the frame and the word "virgo" in an italic font at the base of the image. the centre of the image has beautiful wings stretching out toward the right and left of the image, and three strands of oats overlapping between the wings. above the wings is the virgo constellation.
from The Wild Unknown (I covet their tarot!)

 

FACT#7: On average, Serve participants drink roughly 18 kegs of beer. When a keg of beer is tapped it stays fresh for approximately 12 hours, so even at the end of the long, hot day of volleyball in the sun, our beer is gonna be super tasty! Me, I also stay cool and fresh under pressure and barely sweat at all, so I can assure you I’ll probably smell okay if we are standing next to each other cheering on the teams at Serve.

FACT#8: On another beer-related note, Parc Jeanne Mance, where we hold the tournament every year, has a wild connection to beer making. No really. In 1879, it was actually named by the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain as a significant source of this psychoactive plant called henbane that before the German Beer Purity Law (a real thing too, still in use today by German beer makers!) was used as a flavouring agent in beer! I don’t know how to connect this to me really except to tell you that I am the sort of nerd who got really excited about learning this fact.

 

image description: a photo of the plant henbane growing in what seems to be a park, caged by a black oval cage, with a sign on the front. the sign has an image of a skull and crossbones, and reads "hysocyamus niger, henbane". there is two paragraphs of text with more information below that is too small for me to read/caption!
henbane!

 

FACT #9: Last year, our hosts at Serve were Juniper, the former Fundraising and Development Coordinator, and Julie, both of whom are talented, femme-identifying musicians and performers. Me, I’m a singer and a femme too. FEMME POWAAAH!!

image description: an embroidered pair of hands. the hands are embroidered in black, and have hot pink nails. one of the hands is painting the middle finger of the other hand, which is raised in a "fuck you" gesture.
source: FemmeThings etsy shop

 

FACT#10: I tried out for my school’s volleyball team three times, and didn’t get picked. This year at Serve we’ll be bringing back the LOSERS’ TOURNAMENT, an opportunity for people like me to get some measure of glory and dignity back and reclaim our right to have fun playing sports!

Well team, I hope this has been informative. For me it’s been mildly humiliating BUT it’s also gotten me jazzed about this year’s event (and given me some ideas for future less research-intensive blog posts.) If you have any questions about Serve — or wanna get involved!! — feel free to shoot me an email: serve@headandhands.ca.

SEE YOU ON THE COURTS!!

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Why Ontario’s new sex-ed curriculum is leaving Quebec in the dust (and how we can catch up)

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Have you heard? Ontario has a new sex-ed curriculum! This curriculum update—the first since 1998, i.e., around the time Google was invented—will be implemented in schools this fall, and covers a bunch of ‘new’ topics including same-sex relationships, sexting, and masturbation.

While it’s hard to predict how this new curriculum will be implemented, we are super excited that Ontario is taking steps toward a sex-ed curriculum for the 21st century! We are also pumped that the conversation is expanding to become more comprehensive, inclusive, and holistic. High fives! At the same time, we at Head & Hands are making the same sad faces we had back in 2005 when the Quebec government basically removed sex ed from the curriculum. Because they still haven’t put it back!

Quebec is lagging behind when it comes to sex ed, and youth are the ones who are losing out. Sure, some sex ed is happening—by community organizations like Head & Hands and some teachers—but it certainly isn’t happening at the level or frequency required to meet the needs of our province’s youth. From the Sense Project’s past 10 years on the ground doing sex ed to fill in these gaps, it has become clear to us that the government needs to step up!
As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Ten years have passed since the curriculum reform, and we have seen stats go in the wrong direction in Quebec. STI rates are rising (and yes, F@#% STIgma), and so too are rates of relationship violence. At Head & Hands, we believe that in order to address these challenges, we need sex ed in every classroom that is non-judgemental, holistic, and speaks directly to youth.

We think that youth deserve consistent, reliable access to information and tools regarding sexuality, consent, boundaries, gender identities, and healthy relationships. Having access to emotional, behavioural, and communication tools can support youth in making informed decisions about their sexual health.
Access to comprehensive sexual health information is more important than ever in an era when youth can find all kinds of sex and sexual health information at the click of a mouse (or touch of a screen). The debate over access to sexual health information has changed—youth are accessing and exchanging information at increasingly frequent rates. We believe that accurate information being at the core of that exchange is a priority—to address myths and STIgma; to foster dialogue around diversity and empowered decision making; and to facilitate the development in youth of self-knowledge about bodies, desires, values, and needs when it comes to sex and sexuality. We applaud the steps Ontario has taken, but we need more.

We spoke with  Global TV to help folks understand the context of sex ed in Quebec, and to share what we think Quebec should be doing about sex ed in our province!

We at Head & Hands are calling for the development and implementation of a mandatory non-judgemental, holistic, youth-empowered sex-ed curriculum as well as ongoing trainings for educators, social service providers, and front-line workers. Youth are learning about sex in a million ways—let’s support them in making informed decisions about their health and sexuality.

 

 

Welcome, New Sense Animators!

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Sense Class 2014-15

 

We’re excited to introduce you to our 16 new and returning Sense Animators! These wonderful volunteers just finished their 33-hour-long training and are ready to head out to schools, community centres, and group homes to give sexual health education workshops to Montreal youth.

Led by Health Educator Gabrielle, and Sense Project Research Assistant Shanice, this training session familiarized our peer animators with the Sense Project’s holistic, non-judgmental and youth-centered approach. They were also provided with the tools, skills, and knowledge to facilitate discussions with youth around sexuality and sexual health.

One of the many essential elements to a successful training session is having copious amounts of food available and for that we’d like to thank the People’s potato, Nouveau Palais, Burritoville, Dépanneur Le Pick-up, Lola Rosa, and Aux Vivres, for supplying us with three weeks’ worth of delicious food!

As always, we invite YOUR school or community group to get in touch about booking workshops! We can do them in English or in French, and can provide harm reductive, non-judgemental drug education workshops in addition to our sex ed offerings. If we don’t already have a workshop or presentation that fits the bill, we can often create one that meets your health or sexuality needs! Just email Gabrielle at healthed@headandhands.ca. And if you want to volunteer as a Sense animator during the next academic year, keep an eye out for an application callout in the summer of 2015!

 

 

Volunteer Opportunity: Sense Project Animator!

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Want to be a Sense Project Animator?

We are currently seeking new volunteer animators for the 2014-15 school year!
Interested in facilitating sex ed workshops with youth in high schools? Getting involved with the Sense Project at Head & Hands is a fantastic opportunity to learn, grow and support the well-being of youths in Montreal.

Some need-to-know info about applying to be a Sense Project animator:
• New applicants must be aged 25 and under.
• Animators should be committed to Head & Hands’ principles of anti-oppression, risk reduction, and non-judgment.
• Animators should have some availability on weekdays during the day. Throughout the school year, your amount of volunteering is highly dependent on your availabilities, and the workshop requests made by schools and organizations.
• Bilingualism is not mandatory, but it’s an asset! The training will be bilingual (ENG-FR).
• It is also an asset if you have previous animation experience or experience working with youth, but it’s not a requirement.
• It is mandatory to attend the full animator training (dates listed below).
• Animators must commit for an entire school year, and in taking part in the monthly trainings for the Sense Project (2 hours per month).

2014 Animator Training Dates

Tuesday Sept. 9th 6-9pmThursday Sept. 11th 6-9pmSaturday Sept. 13th 11-4pm
Tuesday Sept. 16th 6-9pmThursday Sept. 18th 6-9pmSaturday Sept. 20th 11-4pm
Tuesday Sept. 23rd 6-9pmThursday Sept. 25th 6-9pmSaturday Oct. 4th 11-4pm

If you meet these criteria and are interested, please fill out the Volunteer Form Sense Project 2014 and send it to Gabrielle at healthed@headandhands.ca.

The deadline to apply is Tuesday, August 12th at noon. We’ll then book a short screening interview with prospective volunteers only. If you have any questions, feel free to call Gabrielle at (514) 481-0277 or email at healthed@headandhands.ca!