By Erin McCarthy | December 18, 2015
National Public Health Sales Representative, ETR
Here’s one of the things I love about my job. Every day, I get to work with people who are passionate about using education to promote healthy behaviors in their communities.
Programs focusing on health and sexuality seek to empower individuals. They want to support healthy sexual choices that reduce sexual risks. The coordination of this work takes dedication, determination and a desire to see positive change. This pretty much sums up Syida Huggins-Richards’ approach to her work.
Syida is the lead coordinator for the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) at the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Human Services. The federally-funded PREP award was granted to prevent adolescent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. The program educates young people on both abstinence and contraception.
Syida’s program targets high-risk youth ages 10-19. The program also supports pregnant and parenting youth.
ETR has worked with the U.S. Virgin Islands DHS since 2010. I recently asked Syida to tell me more about the ETR materials they’ve chosen and how they put them to work to meet the needs of their youth.
Reducing the Risk (RTR) is a 16-session evidence-based curriculum designed to help youth delay the initiation of sex or increase the use of protection against pregnancy and STD/HIV if they choose to have sex. It teaches key skills such as refusal skills, delay tactics and choosing alternative actions.
RTR is a critical component of Syida’s territory-wide PREP program implementation. They reach up to 400 students per cycle, and they run two cycles each year. Syida explains, “Since we live in such a multi-cultural society, the program facilitators and I love and appreciate that the curriculum is offered in Spanish, which makes it easier for us to serve our Spanish-speaking population.”
ETR pamphlets are used during program implementation to supplement the RTR curriculum and enhance student learning. Syida says, “We have noticed that if there are shy students in the classes, pamphlets help to answer any unanswered questions a student might have had that they were too shy to ask.”
The program also uses posters and display boards, such as our Condom Facts Poster and Female Reproductive System Poster. They use these for RTR implementation and the mini-workshops and presentations they offer. “I love the posters and display boards,” Syida says, “especially the Waiting for Sex display board. It is an implementation favorite amongst myself and the program facilitators. Lamination on the posters gets a big thumbs up!”
U.S. Virgin Islands DHS also purchases ETR’s condom kits with condoms and lubrication. They use these for demonstration purposes for two of the lessons in RTR. They’re not allowed to hand them out on school property, but Syida says they can distribute them “for any additional activities outside of program implementation, such as World AIDS Awareness Day or any other campaigns.” She explains further, “We use the condoms as giveaways to bring awareness, help promote our program and, of course, deliver a health message for the community.”
Learning how our customers use our health promotion materials and evidence-based curriculum is invaluable for me as an account manager. I know, for example, that Syida appreciates the one-stop shopping ETR offers for her various health education needs. She’s interested in our Spanish language materials. I always keep my eyes open for new titles that I think might interest her.
She’s told me more than once that she values the excellent customer service we offer, as well as our multiple payment options. When we hear things like this from customers, it helps us as an organization know how to continue to satisfy their needs and, more importantly, how to continually grow and improve.
Hands down, my favorite part of my work is having conversations like these with my customers. When I hear how hard our customers work to put our materials to work in their communities and make a positive impact, the work I do seems completely worthwhile.
So, thank you Syida for these great conversations and for all the fine work you do!
Erin McCarthy is ETR’s National Public Health Sales Representative. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.