SHORE initiates program for sexual health education

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Graphic by Madeline McInnis

The Sexual Health Options, Resources & Education Centre (SHORE) is offering new programs for newcomers to Canada, people with developmental disabilities, and abortion pill services.

The SHORE Centre is a pro-choice positive, inclusive and accessible organization based in downtown Kitchener on King Street East.

The SHORE Centre is excited about the new programs being introduced to the Waterloo Region and hopes to continue making their services even more accessible.

The SHORE Centre is introducing an eight-week program for youths and adults with developmental disabilities to learn fundamental skill pertaining to their sexual health and development.

This program is supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and The Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation, whose support has allowed for this program to be available free of charge.

“The 8-week program all centres around their sexual health, how to take care of themselves and how to be part of healthy meaningful relationships. We’ve partnered with a number of the developmental services organizations with the community to role that program out,” Lyndsey Butcher, executive director of SHORE, said.

Another program which SHORE has expanded on is the newcomer health program.

This program is now available for men as well as mothers and teenage daughters which will go alongside the long-standing women’s health program.

This is another program which is free of charge to access and is supported by The United Way Foundation.

Wilfrid Laurier University students are able to access SHORE’s services either online or in person at their Kitchener office.

“In those programs we offer the session in the participant’s own language, so currently we are running the groups in Arabic with trained facilitators around healthy relationships, family planning and how to talk to your children about their development and sexuality,” Butcher said.

The last new service which is being offered at SHORE is in their pregnancy options support program, which is the abortion pill. The abortion pill will be available for women and trans people to access if they are facing an unplanned pregnancy up to nine weeks.

“They can come to our office and meet with a councillor with the clinician, so we have an OBGYN, nurse practitioner as well as a family doctor who are working in partnership with us to provide support to our community,” Butcher said.

“Before we began offering Mifegymiso, patients in Waterloo region would often have to travel to the GTA to offer the abortion pill and now were able to support them here at home,” Butcher said.

The abortion pill could provide more than just the ability to prevent an unwanted pregnancy but allow for a major breakthrough in reducing the potential of harm which women face when accessing the legal health care service of an abortion.

“We want to ensure that people in Waterloo could access the abortion pill, the abortion pill we feel has a huge potential for improving access reducing stigma to reducing the shame and judgement that goes with accessing an abortion,” Butcher said.

“[SHORE] was very excited when Mifegymiso became available last year. We were hopeful that family doctors would start prescribing it. The vast majority are still not prescribing the medication, so were kind of filling that gap by offering it,” Butcher said.

With the recent expansion in the abortion bill, the SHORE Centre has seen a need in providing birth control services at their centre.

“In our efforts to expand and grow SHORE is to have the ability for people to come in get a prescription for birth control, maybe have it set up for people to have an ID inserted at SHORE, get their pap tests done at SHORE, etc.” Butcher said.

“That’s sort of our goal moving forward; to expand our clinical services to really meet people’s needs so that they can avoid having an unplanned pregnancy,” Butcher said.

Wilfrid Laurier University students are able to access SHORE’s services either online or in person at their Kitchener office.

“If [students] think they might be facing an unplanned pregnancy and would like to take a pregnancy test, come down to our office and meet privately with a councillor to discuss their next steps depending on the results,” Butcher said. “We are very open to students accessing our services we support a number of students from Laurier and our door is always open to them.”

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