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Let's talk about sex, and other things

Parents get tips from leading sex educator



One of B.C.’s best sex educators is coming to town to help Whistler parents address sexual health and other topics with their kids.

Saleema Noon will also talk to young Whistler girls in a separate workshop about empowerment, addressing topics such as positive body image and dealing with peer pressure.

Both workshops are aimed to open the lines of communication for both kids and the adults.

While Noon sees things slowly improving, the topic of sex around kids continues to be a taboo subject.

"That’s something we’re trying to change and we are making headway with that," she said from Vancouver this week.

"We know that kids who are educated early about sexual health have sex later (in life), and when they do have sex, it’s safer sex."

The free parent workshop, which will take place on Thursday, June 22 at 6:30 p.m. at Myrtle Philip School, will give parents helpful tips on what kids need to know about sexual health at each stage of their development and how to tell them in a way that they’ll remember while ensuring sensitivity and minimizing embarrassment.

Some of Noon’s helpful tips include:

• using the technical names of the parts of the body;

• using books to keep kids interested, and;

• providing the information before a child asks for it.

"The important part is to open the lines of communication early so that when kids are teenagers they’ll come to their parents when faced with major decisions," said Noon.

The girls’ workshop, which takes place in the afternoon, will be a two-hour session around body image, self-esteem, peer pressure, and assertiveness when dealing with bullying and friendship problems.

This is the second time Noon has spoken to elementary school girls as part of Whistler Girl Power. Like the first time around, this workshop will be interactive and fun to keep the girls entertained while they learn.

Noon calls the workshop preventative, arming the girls with the tools they need to cope with situations that may arise.

"It’s important to give them information and skills before they actually need it, so when the time comes they’ll be armed," she said.

Noon says girls are becoming better prepared to deal with the issues facing all of them such as bullying, peer pressure and body image.

In particular, she notices that girls now know how to be assertive when faced with bullying, using confident "I" statements and positioning their body in a really strong way instead of responding with violence or going directly to an adult for help.

Whistler Girl Power is a grassroots organization that’s been around for roughly two years aimed at giving young girls something fun to do, an outlet to make new friendships and a way to foster community-mindedness.

Among other things they have made jewelry, gone cross-country skiing together and learned from educators such as Noon.

There is room for 25 girls from Grades 4 to 7 in the upcoming Girl Power talk. To register call Julie Cummings at 604-935-4222. The session runs from 3 to 5:30 p.m. and costs $5.