Beyond the Absence of Disease: Identifying Barriers, Gaps and Needs in Sexual and Reproductive Health Services Offered to Muslim Youth in the Ottawa Area

To respond to the needs of Ottawa’s diverse and changing community, PPO commissioned research through Carleton University’s School of Social Work about the sexual health needs of Muslim youth in Ottawa. The paper, “Beyond the Absence of Disease: Identifying Barriers, Gaps and Needs in Sexual and Reproductive Health Services Offered to Muslim Youth in the Ottawa Area” will inform PPO’s work over the next several years. A PDF of the paper is available for download here.

The aim of this project was to deliver information about sexual and reproductive health to young women from Muslim backgrounds.

A presentation of the program, as delivered to the 2012 Guelph Sexuality Conference, can be found here.

Ottawa Youth Sexual Health Survey

In 2012, PPO worked with the Carleton School of Social Work to design a survey of youth sexual health practices between the ages of 16 and 24. The research team was Polly Leonard, Carolann Chevalier, Natalie Dias, Katrina Levasseur and Katie Ratcliff. A PDF of the final report can be found here.

Insight Theatre

Insight Theatre, a Planned Parenthood Ottawa program, is a unique non-profit, public education theatre program created by, for and about youth. Every year, a group of senior levels students from schools all over the city face the challenge of creating, directing and acting in their own show about sexual and reproductive health, and presenting it to their peers. The program completed in 2016.

The program doesn’t run currently. We will provide updates on this page when we’re able to secure funding to restart the Insight Theatre program.

Insight Theatre

What is Insight Theatre?

Insight Theatre is a sexual health education program created by, for and about youth. Every year, a group of Ottawa-area high school students in grades 9–12 write, direct and act in a theatrical show about sexual and reproductive health and present it to their peers in local schools and community agencies.

What topics are covered in the show?

Our goal is to create a show about sexual health that makes sense to young people, and we think the best way to do this is to have young people create it. Some topics that are covered in the performance are contraception, unintended pregnancy options, sexually transmitted infections, LGBTTQ issues, healthy relationships and sexual pleasure. The show is based on the Ontario Ministry of Education guidelines for Health and Physical Education for Grades 7 to 9, and it’s only possible because of the creativity, enthusiasm and talent of our diverse troupe!

Who should join Insight?

We welcome anyone aged 14–19 to join Insight Theatre, regardless of ability, race, class, gender identity or sexual orientation. Whoever you are, we will value your voice and your passion! No writing or performance experience is required. If you want to write, act or practice your public speaking skills, or if you care about issues related to sexuality and gender and want to make our community a safer and more informed place for youth, contact us about joining Insight!

What will I learn?

All troupe members are trained extensively in sexual health topics so you are prepared to offer accurate, up-to-date information to other teens about sexual health, anatomy, sex positivity and reproduction. As part of your time with Insight, you will also get the chance to blog, create YouTube videos about the troupe, do media interviews on sexual health topics and develop your public speaking, performance, community leadership and writing skills. Insight Theatre is an amazing personal development opportunity, and it’s tons of fun! Speaking in front of people can be hard, and speaking about sex and identity can be even harder, but when you do it as a group, it’s a blast. If you’re someone who’s interested in the big picture—like, say, women’s rights or how bullying and homophobia affect LGBTTQ students—Insight gives you a safe space to start finding your voice on these issues so that you can be part of the movement for social change. And if you’ve never heard of those things, Insight is the place to start exploring them!

How does it work?

Insight Theatre’s season runs from September to June each year. The show is roughly 60 minutes long and is composed of a series of skits that use humour and drama to address sexual health topics. Most of the appearances will happen during school hours. But, don’t worry, the Insight Coordinator will talk to your school for you and arrange for the time that you will need off to participate in Insight performances. We’re also more than willing to work around your exam and work schedules. Troupe members travel together to each show, perform the show together and stick around afterwards to answer any questions that the audience members may have about the material that was presented to them. After the audience members leave, we discuss the performance together as a troupe.

Does this count towards my volunteer hours?

YES! Depending on how involved you want to be, Insight Theatre troupe members can earn up to 200 volunteer hours per year!

Who is behind Insight?

Insight is coordinated by the staff of Planned Parenthood Ottawa, who have been offering sex ed in Ottawa for almost 50 years! The program is funded by Ottawa Public Health, and we couldn’t be more grateful for their support.

*The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada. (2004). SOGC policy statement: school-based and school-linked sexual health education in Canada. JOGC, 26

**Fisher, W., Boroditsky, R., Morris, B. (2004). The 2002 Canadian contraception study: part 2.

***Health Canada. (2004). 2002 Canadian Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Surveillance Report: Pre-Release. Ottawa, ON: Population and Public Health Branch, Health Canada.

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