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5 Questions with Bessie, a former THS Volunteer!

Did you know that Teen Health Source has been around for 25 years! Started in 1993, Teen Health Source has grown from just a phone sexual health info line into a total phone/text/email/online chat peer education service PLUS this very blog that you’re reading RIGHT NOW! To help celebrate our 25th Anniversary, we’re checking in with some of our previous volunteers to see what THS was like when they were on the lines, and where they’re headed now. Today we’re hearing from Bessie!

What was Teen Health Source like when you were a volunteer?

It was awesome. The training alone really challenged me and opened up my world while also providing a space that was welcoming and safe to learn in. I remember wishing I felt the same way during my school day as I did during Teen Health Source training and volunteering.

Why did you want to volunteer at Teen Health Source?

Well, first and foremost, I needed my volunteer hours to graduate high school. I was just starting to learn about things like feminism and sexual diversity, so when I saw Teen Health Source advertised at the library, I thought “wow, that sounds cool!” and the rest is history.

How did volunteering impact your life after you left Teen Health Source?

Volunteering at Teen Health Source allowed me to begin focusing on improving my ability to engage in active, non-judgemental listening which I believe is an essential and undervalued human skill that I hope to continue to improve upon. Also, my friends who know I volunteered with Teen Health Source still text me sometimes to ask me sexual health questions. And, I’m still really close friends with some of the people I volunteered with which is amazing!

Since you were a volunteer, has anything happened in the field of Sexual Health that you’re excited about?

The new Ontario Sex Ed curriculum.

Do you have a favourite resource that you like sharing with people? Or is there a resource you wish existed?

Teen Health Source is still the best online resource for sexual health information that I have used. Now that I’m at university, an in-person resource I have access to is our Sexual Health Resource Centre that not only provides accompaniment and information, but also sells condoms and sex toys at cost. I would recommend anyone who goes to a college or university, or has a friend who does (they have never asked me to see student ID!) to see if their nearest post-secondary school has something similar. A resource I always thought would be helpful is an online chat or text option similar to what we had at THS for resources that are geared more towards providing emotional support rather than information. Recently, Kingston’s Sexual Assault Centre [Link] where I now volunteer has started developing a chat option for their crisis & support line, which is very exciting!

Thanks, Bessie! For more in our 25th Anniversary series, check out teenhealthsource.com/tag/25-years