From late June until February, I worked as a Teen Advocate at Planned Parenthood of New York City. My work there was life-changing. I entered with a passion for reproductive justice. I constantly am baffled with the lack of control women have over their own bodies, and the lack of support there is within public school systems in terms of reproductive health education. Throughout the summer I was educated about all things reproductive health-related (birth control, STIs, healthy relationships, sexuality, anatomy, etc). This knowledge allowed me to enter classrooms for after school programs in order to teach students ages 9-16 about sexual and reproductive health. I also co-lead Center Teen Nights at the various Planned Parenthood centers, in which my fellow Teen Advocates and I demystified the clinic and educated our peers on Teen Rights as well as condom usage and healthy relationship behavior.
I continue to be shocked about the attitudes towards reproductive health within our country. Reproductive rights are human rights as without them, some women are deemed less human than others. My work with PPNYC pushed me as an activist. I entered unaware of the changes I want to make within the public health system. However, I ended my time with a completely different perspective. Through peer education, advocacy, lobbying, and outreach, I helped make a difference in reproductive health, while discovering a passion for policy change. In the future, I want to help increase the number of low-cost clinics, especially in under-served areas. I want to advocate for a comprehensive four-year reproductive health education program in public schools. I want to further reduce unintended pregnancies among young women. Working as a Teen Advocate at PPNYC clarified the solutions to the toxic approaches to sexual and reproductive rights within the United States.