Community Champion SEC
The University of Toronto Sexual Education and Peer Support Centre is a not-for-profit, volunteer-run student service/student group at the University of Toronto, St. George campus. The Sexual Education Centre offers a free, confidential, non-judgmental peer support approach to sex education. The services currently offered to all University of Toronto students, faculty, staff, community members and organizations include: phone support, an informative website, one-to-one peer support, library and resource services, residence and high school talks, Sexual Awareness Week, workshops, referral services, and much more.
In the nomination, the student states that the Sex Education Centre is, “committed to creating a supportive, non-judgmental, safe space for students on the campus, for all bodies and all experiences.” Furthermore, the student states that the SEC, “meets the needs of the student body, and makes the campus a safer place that is more conductive for learning.” Could you tell us a bit more about how you accomplish this, and why it’s an important aspect of your work?
At SEC, we work hard to ensure our space accessible, which includes providing wheelchair accessibility, scent-free and quiet spaces, and gender-neutral facilities. Because we are an anonymous service, we are able to provide our service users the comfort of privacy, while letting them know that their questions and concerns are valid. SEC also has an external education team (i.e., in high schools) that focuses on education regarding a broad range of topics, such as sexual health, human sexuality, and self-care. It's important for us to acknowledge that people come from a diverse backgrounds and not everyone has the same level of education on or knowledge of the topics we cover. We work to provide a space in which they can learn without repercussions or negativity.
Discussions about health are often related to concerns about healthy eating, physical activity, managing stress and sleep. We’d be interested to hear from you, your thoughts on the concept of a healthy campus and how it can be integrated into University of Toronto?
We feel that a healthy campus is one that focuses not only on physical health, but also mental health. This can be done by forming a strong support network for students and fostering an environment that decreases the stigma around issues like mental illness. One way of achieving this is by having more safe spaces on campus where students can have open discussions.
In the nomination, the student states that, “the staff are passionate about their work, friendly and well-informed,” and that the center, “is an amazing resource for all sexual health concerns.” Please let us know what this nomination as a Healthy Campus Champion means to your department?
We are deeply honoured to have been nominated. As an education/peer support center, it makes us happy to know that our hard work and efforts have been beneficial to our service users and that they gain knowledge from our events and resources.
We would also be interested to hear if you have any suggestions about what more could be done to foster campus environments that support the wellbeing of students?
To reiterate what was said previously - having more safe spaces to have open discussion and forming a stronger support/resources networks would support the wellbeing of students.