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Many people have been asking about when our next peer sex educator training will be, and I'm sorry to say that I'm coming in with my founder and executive director hat on to deliver some not-so-awesome news about it.
We have a very long waiting list for another session of our training. I was hoping to be able to do another round this spring or summer, but as of right now, it simply will not be possible to do until late fall, and may even need to stay on hold until 2011.
I like to run the organization as transparently as possible, so I'll briefly explain what's up with the holdup. Long story short, there are three major factors right now which are the issue.
With the waiting list being so long, we want to train a larger group in than last time. But even with the small group that we had last year, it was clear that doing the training mostly on my own was very difficult, and I feel that shortchanged our trainees. So, I need some pro-bono help from a handful of other qualified educators who can and will commit to actively help for the whole of the six-week session and the final review. Those people are very hard to find. I'd love to be able to pay trainers for their time and effort, which would help, but that gets us to the second issue.
Our funding for this year is not at all ideal. Last year's end-of-year fundraiser went exceptionally well, but not only did some of that funding not wind up coming through, since that fundraiser donations to the organization have been exceptionally low. Last year's fundraiser was also mostly about taking care of last year's budget, not this year's budget. I was able to shift some of the funds over to this year, but there's still a big gap between what we have and what we need, especially with additional programs beyond our most basic operating expenses.
Doing the training already comes with a cost per materials and my own labor to direct, oversee and manage the whole program, and as it stands right now, we barely have the funds for that. There are no additional funds to compensate trainers, and it's hard to find people who can afford to solidly commit to several hours a week for the whole of the session without any kind of payment. Of course, last year we were able to offer a stipend to some educators who said they could help, but unfortunately, even the two who said they would do so with a stipend did not follow through with participation. (Never let anyone tell you only teenagers are flaky, for the record. It's so not true. Everyone can be flaky.)
Additionally, I am making a fairly major move of both my home and office in less than a month. I'm staying in Washington, but moving out of the city and unto one of the islands that surrounds it; shifting from urban to rural. That's a major change that involves a lot of preparation, especially for a packrat like me moving both their home and work, particularly on a super tight-budget and while dealing with chronic illness, and without the ability to take much, if any, time off from an already demanding and heavy daily workload to orchestrate that move.
I'm terribly sorry to have to give you this news because I know there are young people who really want this training, and I love to do anything I can to help more awesome peer sex educators out there. Unfortunately, this is one of those times where I'm hitting up against the limitations of what we can do at any given time, of which there are always many as an organization which serves millions of people a year, but which is incredibly small in proportion financially and administratively.
I have kept a record of everyone who has emailed wanting to know about the training or who wants to apply to participate. As soon as I know when we can do it, all of you will get an email back from me with that information and the application.
I know how it sucks to want to get started on something and to be unable to, so I want to make sure that everyone with interest knows there are other opportunities to get training as a peer educator. Planned Parenthood, for instance, offers peer educator training. You can find out if your local branch can offer you that by just giving them a call. This page from Family Health International lists some programs for peer educator training internationally. The Red Cross offers peer educator training. Another great way to get training is to check in with any sexual health clinics or community groups -- such as LGBT groups -- about internships where you can learn on-the-job. If you're at a high school or university, you can ask your guidance counselor if they know of any trainings. Please don't let our limitations limit you.
If you're a Scarleteen supporter who wants to help with funding the peer educator training program, or a sexuality educator who may have the availability to volunteers, by all means, drop me an email and I'd love to talk with you.
Again, I'm sorry to be the bearer or bad news, especially any news where I have to tell young people motivated to do something awesome who want our help in that that we just can't help.