Kira’s Work With PPNYC

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.

Kira’s Experience at Trinity Place Shelter

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year, I volunteered at Trinity Place Shelter on 97th and Amsterdam. The shelter serves LGBTQ homeless youth. A group of students and I painted and cleaned the shelter. We also got to learn about the demographics of LGBTQ homeless youth, which I was unfamiliar with. It was interesting to think about how youth does not necessarily mean teenagers–it usually focuses on an age group from about 18-22. Many LGBTQ Youth become homeless because of their transition to the city from more rural areas. The city is extremely expensive, thus the switch from whatever area they are living in is difficult. It was also interesting to get more of a visual of homeless shelters. In many discussions in and out of school, I have found that students casually throw around the word “shelter” as a place for those who do not have housing to immediately go to. Trinity, along with many other shelters, is merely a night stay–people can only live there from about 9 pm to 7 am. Similarly, it can only hold about 15-20 people. While this is a large help, it is a rather small amount in comparison to the thousands who remain without a home. I came out curious how we could change housing policies in the city, as well as how we could increase the capacity of certain homeless shelters in New York.

Here is a photo of me painting one of the columns at Trinity Place Shelter: