volunteer

Summering Safe and Sound

Here in the hemisphere I live in, we're into the swing of summer. Ah, summer, my personal favorite season. I love the sun, the warmth, everything blooming, the energy, the spirit of the season. As an alternative educator all my life, though, I miss out on that thing where teachers get summers off (though I've also known few teachers in the public sector who could afford to take the summer off, anyway), and as the Executive Director and lead educator at Scarleteen, I really don't get downtime. Summer is and has always been our busiest season. Eh, so it goes.

Why I Escort

I am a volunteer abortion clinic escort. This means I am there to walk with women coming into the abortion clinic. It's usually no more than a minute's walk from their cars to the front door of the clinic. Under normal circumstances, my help would hardly be needed. Except the circumstances outside an abortion clinic are rarely "normal."

Spotlight on Scarleteen: Karyn

If you've ever come to the Scarleteen message boards in a jam or just happen to like reading up on expert sex ed advice, then chances are you already know Karyn a.k.a. Karybu from her compassionate, knowledgeable, and very personalized responses in Ask Scarleteen or Emergencies and Crises. In fact, since 2004, Karyn has been lending her ear and dolling out advice at Scarleteen. Since then, Karyn has earned her college degree, turned her volunteer work here into an awesome career and moved halfway across the world for love, but she still finds time to return to her beloved online home-away-from-home, Scarleteen.

As caring and compassionate as Karyn is, there's so much more to this multifaceted "child of the universe", as she once so fittingly called her personal thread on the boards. To continue a theme of alliteration, some other choice "c" words that come to mind to describe Karyn include Canadian, coffee-loving, committed, curious, and creative.

A Canadian citizen who currently calls Queensland, Australia home, Karyn was born in Ottawa but grew up mostly in Minnesota, then headed to British Columbia for university, and currently resides in Queensland, Australia. Committed to those near and dear to her, whether close or afar, Karyn makes sure to keep up with her great friends and supportive family in Canada despite the 17 hour time difference!

Karyn has a natural curiosity and genuine thirst for knowledge, be it reading everything she can get her hands on or planning on earning her PhD and becoming a professor one day.

Speaking of thirst, Karyn is quite the coffee-connoisseur, so much, in fact, that her board username was inspired by one popular coffee chain.

As for names, creative could be her middle name. Through mediums such as dance and photography, Karyn likes to express herself through visual, kinestitic, and verbal mediums. While I have not yet met her in person, I have vouch for Karyn's eye for photos as well as her sparkling eyes and bright smile which so clearly display her authentic affability.

In addition to her valuable responses in the expert areas of the board, Karyn has started many neat discussion topics, such as one on the Pros and Cons of Universal Health Care, another on dealing with mental illness, and this one that encourages users to share the sweet, simple things in their lives. Karyn also posted her first blog entry last week, a first of a series on her experiences with the Implanon birth control device.

Without any further ado, we proudly present to you Karyn's interview!

Spotlight on Scarleteen: Jacob

This Spotlight on Scarleteen interview features the one and only Jacob! Also known as PenguinBoy on the message boards, Jacob is an engineering student living in Leeds, UK. A big influence on his identity, both at the site as well as in person, is his rejection of labels. (You’ll hear more about this soon!) At Scarleteen, Jacob puts his diverse background to use by offering an introspective take on topics such as sexual orientation and relationships, while also being one of the few male volunteers at the site.

Currently taking a break from his studies, Jacob is a Jack(ob)-of-all-trades who manages to fit volunteering into his busy schedule, which includes recently having worked in the neonatal ICU and maternity area of a hospital, regularly creating art work and graphic design commissions, teaching English to asylum seekers and refugees, writing poetry­ and hanging out with his beloved friends. (Of course, this is to be expected from someone who is such an open, welcoming friend himself– in person and on the boards!)

While Jacob is frank and transparent about many things, it is his unique perspective on the non-importance of labels that is extra special. He offers a truly refreshing take on an age-old dilemma faced by so many young people questioning their sexual orientation. Jacob’s article Living without Labels could be seen as icing on the cake in that it wraps up all those resources while adding a sprinkle of his personal experience. Human sexuality is so diverse. People are as different and unique as snowflakes, if even more so; no one label appropriately describes anyone. Many websites and resources may sponsor that message but few hit the nail on the head as well as Jacob does in his piece.

To use his own words:

But for any of you who have trouble with trying to work it out, who actually undergo stress to fathom what box you belong in or have an inkling that maybe you're over-squeezed to fit in a badly shaped one, I suggest to just think for a moment, that maybe you don’t need a box after all. Like I don’t have to ‘come-out’ and confess that something of myself is different to that which never needed to have been assumed in the first place.

Not long ago, Jacob did come out–- from behind his computer screen–- so we could get to know him better. Indeed, even without the convenience of labels, Jacob peals back the layers to reveal a lot of interesting and new information about himself. Here it is, “straight”-up! Please feel free to comment or ask Jacob any questions directly by leaving a message on this page or in the Staff Stuff area of the message boards.

Without any further ado, let’s get started with the interview!

Spotlight on Scarleteen: Abbie

This week's Spotlight on Scarleteen interview will be with Abbie a.k.a. JamSessionVT. A self-proclaimed "recycled" hippie, Abbie embodies many of the characteristics commonly associated with her progressive, idyllic home state of Vermont: she’s open-minded, hardworking, supportive, and maple syrup loving. While that last part was stretching it, even she admits that the long, cold winters, as picturesque and perfect for skiing as they may be, sometimes leave her pining for warmer days. That said, Abbie has no plans to leave Vermont or Scarleteen for greener pastures– in fact, just as she considers the Green Mountain State her down-to-earth home, Abbie considers Scarleteen her warm and welcoming virtual home. This is great news for Scarleteen users and volunteers alike; in addition to dishing up great advice on the message boards with an upbeat tone, Abbie's glad to pitch in behind-the-scenes. She's more than willing to lend a hand to a fellow volunteer or fix broken links– the web equivalent of mucking out stalls– so we can focus on the prize ponies.

I always look forward to Abbie's blog entries, which are truly a refreshing mix of eloquence and profoundness. That may seem like a grand statement for some words on a page; however, I encourage you to read them here, here, and here to see for yourself. Time and time again, Abbie turns an everyday event– often an unpleasant or unfortunate occurrence– into a positive educational experience that really resounds with Scarleteen readers. Her blog entry on how an unexpected visitor opened the door to an important discussion with her boyfriend, "An Unfortunate Combination: Periods and Pants," was published a year ago but remains one of the most popular and commented on blog entries at Scarleteen. It has encouraged many unregistered users to sign up to leave comments, which have taken on an empowering, you-go-girl life of their own. Those positive words of support include the following, from "Thank goodness I found this blog… Finding this blog makes me appreciate womanhood and that ladies can be open to discuss this experience," to "These stories from each and every one of you have made me smile. The embarrassing moments happen to all of us." Step back Seventeen magazine's awkward Traumarama; step forward, Abbie, to take a bow for this positive piece!

Spotlight on Scarleteen: Joey

Our first Spotlight on Scarleteen interview will be with Joey, whom you may also know as September from the message boards. Joey is an incredibly multi-faceted and multi-talented individual who has been active at Scarleteen since 2005.

You probably wouldn't notice it based on reading her flawless English, but multilingual Joey's mother tongue is German, although her educational background has been international and multi-faceted. She's not just knowledgeable about sex ed, but has many unique interests and experiences, from modeling to being a huge Buffy fan. At Scarleteen and in person, Joey is not one to shy aware from challenging issues that might intimidate less confident people; in fact, she candidly discusses these things warmly and with grace. I've had the great fortune of meeting her in person, and can say that Joey’s even more awesome in person.

Without further ado, the transcript to our recent interview follows. Please feel free to comment or ask Joey any questions directly by leaving a message on this page or in the Staff Stuff area of the message boards.

Spotlight on Scarleteen: Going the Distance in LDRs

Going the Distance: A Few Thoughts on Long-Distance Relationships by Joey

Do you know that Cake song that goes, “He’s going the distance… he’s going for speed… she’s all alone (all alone!) in a time of need…”? If you also listened to a lot of alternative rock in the mid-nineties or just love clever trumpet-y tunes, the chorus to Cake’s “The Distance” may pop into your head upon reading this Scarleteen Take Two! article’s title. I’m not sure if author Joey had that song in mind when penning her piece, but “going the distance” to make long-distance relationships work is something she knows firsthand. In her article, “Going the Distance: A Few Thoughts on Long-Distance Relationships,” Joey shares personal experience as well as great general advice for people in or considering long-distance relationships.

Bingo!

According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute and other reliable sources, a sexually active young adult who does not use contraceptives has around a 90% chance of becoming pregnant within just one year. That's not a new statistic or anything a lot of people don't know, but it's one that makes clear how important it is for sexually active teens to find, have and use a birth control method which works for them.