You Know It When You See It
I was lucky enough to spend my February 2nd, not waiting for the doubtful predictions of Punxsutawney Phil, but visiting the IPPF/WHR Member Association in El Salvador, Asociación Demográfica Salvadoreña (ADS). More pressing on my mind than 6 more weeks of winter was how we could best share the amazing work of ADS.
Flash back to a year ago. Our Evaluation Officer and I visited ADS and began to learn more about their great model for integrating comprehensive sexuality education and youth-friendly services by hiring young people as health promoters. The promoters provide information to their peers, promote ADS' services, and coordinate groups of community volunteers (also young people) who do the same. In addition to five clinics served by the youth health promoters, ADS has built a clinic exclusively for young people. It's an impressive approach that ADS has documented well and, one that I'm not ashamed to admit, I have "borrowed" when providing technical assistance to other Member Associations.
When we visited last year, the building that was to house the clinic was in the early stages of renovation, so it was to be a highlight of our trip this week. The concept of youth-friendly services is sometimes difficult to agree on, and certainly it's one of those ideas that "you know it when you see it". Here's what I saw and what I loved about the new ADS youth clinic:
- Clear attractive signage visible from the street
- Location on a major avenue, very accessible by public transportation, close to schools
- Colorful decoration and murals designed by young volunteers and staff
- A youth health promoter greeting every client and providing confidential and warm first contact
- Young, friendly, knowledgeable medical staff
- Early and weekend hours
- Attractive and informative brochures with a rights-based and gender-sensitive perspective
- Clearly posted price list with discounted prices for clients under 24
- Young people! (Services aren't "friendly" if no one is using them.)
Congratulations to ADS on their contribution to the sexual and reproductive health of young people!