Wellness seminar promotes healthy relationships, safe sex


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The Health & Wellness Center hosts an information session on  communication, support, respect and boundaries.

Dominic Salacki, Advertising Manager

Healthy relationships include four main components, an AACC registered nurse said at a Valentine’s Daythemed panel last week: communication, support, respect and boundaries. 

Stephanie Jenkins was part of an AACC Health and Wellness Centerhosted a virtual event on Feb. 10 called “Sex, Alcohol, Hooking Up and Love, just in time for Valentine’s DayPeer student leader Cynthia Tawney of the Health and Wellness Center’s Alcohol and Sexual Violence Prevention Program was a co-presenter at the 45-minute gathering over Microsoft Teams. 

With referrals to an organization dedicated to healthy relationships, LoveIsRespect.orgthe presenters split the virtual seminar into four discussions: healthy relationships, the good partner quiz, condoms and more, and swag bag giveaways for all participants. The gift bags contained supplies like condoms, dental dams and lube. 

Tawney began the meeting with a couple of poll questions for the participants, including, “Do you make plans before going out with friends or on a date?” to stress the importance of thinking ahead of time in case of an emergency, and, “If you saw a kitten drowning, would you save it?” as a way of introducing the notion of bystander intervention. Later, Tawney revisited that concept with a scenario of an intoxicated friend getting behind the wheel. 

“We all go through a process when we see things that make us say, I have to do something, but sometimes we’re not sure or comfortable about what to do,” Tawney said. “We have the power to intervene, but we also have the power to contact someone who might be better equipped to handle the situation.” 

Next came the good partner quiz from LoveIsRespect.org. The quiz tests healthy relationships with questions like, “Do I ignore my partner’s calls if I don’t feel like talking?,” “Do I make fun of my partner’s appearance?” and “Do I read my partner’s texts or go through their personal things like their wallet or purse?” 

“It’s an amazing quiz and when we were on campus, lots of students really liked this quiz,” Jenkins said. 

The discussion eventually turned to safe sex. 

Using a dental dam or a condom “decreases your risk of getting a [sexually-transmitted infection] or giving an STI to your partner,” Jenkins said. “Make sure you check the expirations dates [on your dental dams or condoms] and make sure you check it for tears or defects before use.” 

Dental dams are latex or polyurethane sheets used for oral surgery and also during oral sex. 

“Prior to this workshop, I have heard of dental dams, but I’ve never heard anyone ever say where you can actually get them,” said Samantha Aldridge, one of the seminar’s participants. Aldridge is a sixth-year American Sign Language and transfer studies student.

Jenkins said students can purchase dental dams online. Nurse Beth Mays, the manager of the Health and Wellness Center, also recommended splitting open a latex glove to make a dental dam. 

The Health and Wellness Center is planning weekly virtual seminars about sleep, stress, nutrition and other topics. 

The center’s staff is “trying really hard, virtually, to do all the things and have all the services that we were providing to students and faculty before [the pandemic],” Jenkins said, and “ to make it fun and educational and to give you skills, something you can use in your life.” 

“When we were on campus, I would have a lot of our wellness events,” Jenkins said, “and since we’re no longer on campus, we’re still trying to do that, but virtually.” 

Jenkins told Campus Current many students don’t realize the center’s services are still available even though the campus is closed. 

“By doing these events, we want to let students and staff know that [the Health and Wellness Center is] still here even though we’re physically not on campus,” Jenkins said.