Coventry University is hosting a meeting in which leading health professionals and academics will present creative approaches to improving the sexual health and well being of young people.
The Innovation in Sexual Health event takes place at the TechnoCentre, Coventry University Technology Park on Tuesday 12 February 2013. Hosted by the Studies in Adolescent Sexual Health (SASH) research group based at Coventry University, the event will explore new and imaginative ideas for engaging and educating young people in a sensitive and sometimes awkward subject.
A key issue for workers in the field of sexual health, and one that’s a big part of the agenda on the day, is how to make the best use of digital resources to increase awareness and minimise risk amongst a generation that is becoming increasingly tech savvy.
The researchers at SASH have already made inroads in this area, having recently developed an online game, website and mobile app all geared towards educating young people about sex and relationships as well as encouraging respect, trust and understanding amongst them.
The online game called PRE:PARe (which stands for Positive Relationships: Eliminating coercion and Pressure in Adolescent Relationships) was built by the University’s Serious Games Institute with direct input from health professionals, teachers and young people across Coventry and Warwickshire.
The game has already been rolled out to schools in the local area and has been designed for use with young people in sex education lessons, helping them to understand, through a variety of scenarios, what coercion is and how it occurs in day to day life, such as within relationships and through online interactions.
A demo of the game can be found on this link: http://seriousgamesinstitute.co.uk/links.aspx?section=66&item=515&category=55
The team from SASH along with colleagues from Warwickshire County Council and NHS Warwickshire have also created the Respect Yourself internet site and mobile app, using input from young people to create a comprehensive resource about sex and associated topics in ways that they said are lacking from the sex education they receive in school.
Both PRE:PARe and Respect Yourself will be showcased at the event.
Other topics to be explored on the day include the potential of social media as a tool for teenage pregnancy prevention, and how to tackle pornography and relatively new phenomena like ‘sexting’ within school based sex and relationship education.
The researchers at SASH are keen to ensure that future innovations are based on the views and opinions of their target audience so a group of young people from Coventry and Warwickshire will also be at the event to feedback their views on the ideas under discussion and they’ll be giving a prize to the project that they find most engaging.
Katherine Brown, Health Psychologist at SASH and Reader in eHealth & Wellbeing Interventions (joint with NHS Warwickshire) said: “The internet and social media sites have dramatically changed the way that young people can find out about sex so it’s vitally important that health professionals, teachers and parents are attuned to these new ‘rules of engagement’.
“Technology has a part to play in this but it’s really important that digital resources are designed in a way that engages young people and aren’t patronising or judgemental in any way. They also need to incorporate the best evidence about what works to improve health and wellbeing.
“There needs to be a willingness to be honest and open about the subject and to listen to the views of young people themselves. That’s the approach that we’re encouraging at this event in which we’ll be focusing on how to deliver innovative and improved sexual health education and services in the future.”
Innovation in Sexual Health takes place from 9am to 5pm on Tuesday 12 February 2013 at the TechnoCentre, Coventry University Technology Park. The event is open to those working in the field of sexual health. Attendance is free of charge but places must be booked in advance.
Places can be booked online.