Members of UMHS AMWA (American Medical Women’s Association) spoke to 6th graders at the private SKI Academy in St. Kitts back on February 25, 2019 about puberty, sexual health and maturation.
The UMHS Endeavour spoke to AMWA president Nina Madjer about the visit and how the Caribbean medical school students helped educate kids about important issues that, while sensitive, need to be discussed openly.
Frank Talk About Sensitive Issues
SKI Academy Vice Principal Nadine Andrea invited AMWA members to come speak to her 6th grade class about sexual health, puberty and the transforming adolescent body.
“This was a wonderful opportunity for UMHS students to make a difference in their community and work together to encourage learning and openness about sexual health discussions,” AMWA said in an Instagram post about the event.
Ms. Madjer spoke to the Endeavour about how rewarding it was teaching the 6th graders. Topics discussed included puberty, sexual health and maturation.
“Each of our members were able to discuss important topics such as male and female anatomy, body changes experienced during puberty, sperm maturation, menstruation, fertilization, implantation, pregnancy and fetal development,” she said.
Was it difficult discussing these sensitive topics with students at SKI Academy?
“At first the students were quiet and hesitant to begin talking about such a delicate topic that also carries stigma at that age, but we supplied the students with an activity to do while we were getting set up that allowed them to discuss appropriate anatomical words and names with each other,” Ms. Madjer said. “We felt that this would be a nice icebreaker before we got started.”
Discussing the human body and sexuality is important and also complex. There isn’t just one issue regarding sexual health to be discussed; the young people of St. Kitts, like all children of the world, need to be exposed to these terms and allowed the opportunity to be openly inquisitive on these subjects, Ms. Madjer explained.
“That age is a transformative time where you start to experience changes in your body that may make you feel uncomfortable, but our goal was to bring those changes to light and reassure the students that they are not the only ones going through those changes,” she said. “In fact, their peers sitting right next to them are also likely experiencing the same things. In doing this, we wanted the students to feel comfortable to ask questions and find real answers to those questions.”
Many things amazed Ms. Madjer and the AMWA members about working with students during the SKI Academy visit.
“We were very pleasantly surprised by the amount of knowledge the students already had about the difference in male and female anatomy, the menstrual cycle and pregnancy, and sperm production,” she said. “In addition, they were very inquisitive about the things they didn’t know or didn’t understand. Once they felt comfortable with us, the AMWA members, and the topic, each student asked a question and was a part of the dialogue. It was very inspiring and impressive.”
Ms. Madjer noted that the event was also an opportunity for members of the new AMWA E-Board, Vice-President Priya Gill and Treasurer Veronica Marin, to fully participate and help continue the relationship AMWA has built in the St. Kitts community.
“The SKI Academy visit was very moving and exciting,” she said. “As part of AMWA, each of our members shares a passion in spreading knowledge and inspiring others to do so as well. By sharing what we know with the 6th graders of SKI Academy, we hope that they will also share what they have learned with their fellow upper and lower classmates at SKI as well as family and friends at home. Engaging in the community both on and off UMHS’ campus has always been a top priority for AMWA, and the 6th graders of SKI Academy made it that much more fun and exciting for us to do that.”
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