Jasmine Lake, a senior at Mercer University, hosted a Sexual Health Education Week for her Service Scholars project from Oct. 19 to 22.
Mercer Service Scholars is a program that invites service-minded students to work in substantial service outreach in and outside of the local Macon community. Service Scholars are normally required to complete an individual or team-based service project in their junior or senior year.
“Sexual Health Education Week is about promoting sexual education on campus, mostly among Mercer undergraduate students, and also getting more people comfortable talking about sex and sexual wellness,” Lake said.
She put on a total of four events over the duration of the week. The first was "Sexy Bingo," which was a modified bingo game where she switched words out for sexual and reproductive health vocabulary and provided a fact for each word. When someone got a bingo, they had to tell her three of the facts they learned to win the round.
The second was an informational Zoom session on STDs and STIs with a representative from Planned Parenthood. The third event was a guided discussion, "The Connection Between Mental Health and Sexual Relationships," to discuss the exploration of sexuality, maintaining healthy relationships and how it affects one’s mental health in college. The last event was for HIV testing administered by the Department of Public Health.
Lake said that she would create infographics for the events that weren’t as well-attended, such as the Planned Parenthood night, to provide information covered in the events.
“My most important goal is just so that people have that information — whether they get it at that moment or later — as long as they’re exposed to new information,” Lake said.
Lake decided to put on a sexual health education week as her Service Scholar project because she plans on becoming a gynecologist after her graduation in December. Lake, whose mother is a nurse, said that she’s always been comfortable talking about sex.
“I noticed on campus my friends were just not as comfortable talking about sex or reproductive conversations as I was, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to kind of expand their horizons,” Lake said.
For her first event, she had about 25 people attend, while only one attended the second event and five attended the third event. She had ten people be tested at the HIV testing event but also had people reach out and ask about another testing event in the future.
“These events are important because it’s inevitable students are gonna be sexually active in a college environment, so they need to be informed of the best practices to take and how to be while engaging in sexual activity,” Janai Baxter, who attended the Sexy Bingo and the Connection Between Mental Health and Sexual Relationships, said.
“It’s not often spoken about on college campuses, and so bringing awareness to sexual health is extremely important,” Tay Jones, who attended the first three events, said.
Even though she is about to graduate, Lake wants the week to become an annual event. While she’s considering hosting the event again if she attends Mercer’s medical school, she’s also planning on talking to different student organizations to see if any of them would be interested in hosting in the future in the interest of making it sustainable.
“One of the big things on campus when it comes to health initiatives (is that) at least one person is good because that means you’re helping someone,” said Lake.
She’s still in the process of working out to keep the event going, but was glad about the enthusiastic response her events received.
“Sexual health and wellness is not something to be afraid of,” Lake said. “It is really a lot of fun when you think about it, and it can be a great way to kind of develop relationships and very important to think about when you are developing relationships so that everyone can build boundaries and honesty and open communication.”