Sex, toys and celebrities. It might sound like a description of the infamous Studio 54, but when you add a little education and a dash of counseling, you’ve actually got a recipe for the Calgary Sexual Health Centre (CSHC).
CSHC has been spreading the gospel of sexual education for many years now. Last weekend in fact was the centre’s 40th Anniversary Gala. That’s 40 years of not only telling high school kids that condoms are cool and that yes your parents still probably have sex, and as Community Development Manager Roseline Carter points out, a whole slew of other programs.
“Most of Calgary thinks that we’re simply focused on education,” says Roseline. “Although teaching about sexuality is a large part of what we do, we offer so much more then that.”
Yeah they do. CSHC advocates for equal rights, provides counseling and support for everything from sexual assault to pregnancy and those of us debating gender identity and sexual orientation.
When asked how CSHC has had to adapt to teaching Calgary’s new generations, Roseline explained that it’s less about mechanics and what a Sexually Transmitted Infection is, but more about providing open conversation and meaningful discussion on sexuality in general.
“Over the past few years we’ve noticed a change in how much more our students know about sexuality,” says Roseline. “With the oncoming of the internet, kids need a different kind of education these days.”
One of the adaptations CSHC has made to providing relevant education to our precocious adolescents is taking condom demonstrations to a whole new level. You may not have heard, but CSHC is known for their “woodies”, wooden demonstration tools used for condoms. CSHC has made art out of these phallic beauties, asking students and now celebrities to paint them in whatever way they like.
CSHC harassed a few famous Canadians like Rick Mercer, Brett Wilson and the lovely Sue Johanson via social media to take a stab at painting the little guys and low and behold they got a few gems out of the deal. Rick Mercer’s was probably the biggest hit, painting his rendition of Stephen Harper on the woodie and calling it “Little Stevie” to boot. All the celeb woodies were auctioned off to raise money for the centre and its services.
So there you have it, CSHC has embedded itself into the sexual history of our city and continues to evolve and grow as we do. Almost like puberty, but better because CSHC is there to hold our hands and tell us what the hell is going on.