Sexual Health Centre Cork launches SHIFT (Sexual Health Information for Teens)

This inclusive new resource will help Irish teens navigate topics such as sex, puberty and relationships.

Image: Ian Gubbins

The Sexual Health Centre in Cork launched its SHIFT (Sexual Health Information for Teens) booklet on Tuesday the 23rd of March in response to the need for inclusive Relationships and Sexuality Education for Irish teenagers.

The booklet was launched with the help of the Cork County Council’s Social Inclusion Specialist, Tony Power, who praised the availability of such a resource. “It’s fantastic to see such engaging, educational resources being made available to Cork’s young people. Cork City Council is delighted to support the Sexual Health Centre in making this happen”.

The SHIFT booklet was developed as a reimagined production of a past sexual health resource by the centre, this time ensuring that the booklet was as inclusive of all LGBTQ+ people as possible. The resource explores themes of sexual health that affect young people of all sexualities, genders and backgrounds. Such areas include guidance on healthy relationships, pregnancy, contraception, HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections.

The Author of the SHIFT booklet, Olivia Teahan, emphasised the importance of prioritising inclusion and diversity when developing sexual health resources for young people. “Inclusive sex education not only contributes to positive sexual health outcomes and healthy decision-making for all – but it also encourages understanding among peers of different genders and sexualities.”

“At the Sexual Health Centre, we pride ourselves on creating a non-biased and inclusive space for everybody,” Teahan continued. “We want to empower young people in Cork to discuss their most intimate concerns in a safe environment, if and when they need to.

“To date, many Irish people – young and old – have not had the opportunity. We need to shift the conversation away from shame and judgement, and towards openness and acceptance.”

The executive director of the Sexual Health Centre in Cork, Dr Martin Davoren highlighted the importance of providing young people with accurate information regarding sexual health and guidance on how to safely navigate this aspect of their lives. “Every young person should be given the opportunity and encouragement to be fully informed about their sexual health. This is particularly important when considering the vast amount of misinformation online”.

Far from the Sexual Health Centre’s first initiative, the Centre has introduced a range of resources in past years such as a peer-led LGBTQ+ sexual health advisory service and Ireland’s first community sexual health hub. If you want to order a hard copy of the SHIFT booklet or to view the online version, visit the Sexual Health Centre’s website here.

The Centre will also be hosting a series of webinars for young people in the months to come. Information about these webinars will be made available on the Sexual Health Centre’s website.

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