Although sexual health is not usually a laughing matter, one new social media campaign aims to mix humour and health to promote safe sex practices amongst young people in Saskatchewan.
Wrap It Up is the latest initiative from Sexual Heath Centre Saskatoon, a community health clinic that specializes in providing free sexual health services and education. Through education, events and social media, Wrap It Up hopes to address some of the major issues young people face when it comes to sexual health.
Wrap It Up comes as an extension of the ongoing condom distribution project run by SHCS and OUTSaskatoon. Between the two organizations, approximately 90,000 condoms and 12,000 packages of lubricant are distributed at locations all across the Saskatoon Health Region, including University of Saskatchewan Student Health Services and the U of S Student Union Centres.
One of the key components of Wrap It Up is an innovative redesign of the free condoms already distributed by the SHCS. Instead of just generic packaging, the new condom wrappers feature some suggestive puns using names of Saskatchewan communities — including jokes like “Saskatoon, wanna spoon?” and “Climax, please come again.”
The initial idea for the condoms is the brainchild of SHCS executive director Jillian Arkles Schwandt.
“I had seen Toronto and New York branded condoms, and thought it was a really great idea and that we could do it here in Saskatchewan. The goal of the project was to enhance the condom distribution project by designing condoms that would be engaging, sexy and fun, while at the same time linking people to information on HIV and STIs as well as testing, which is why we also developed a website, wrapitupsk.ca,” Schwandt said.
The condom designs were developed between the SHCS and Territorial, a local creative agency, in consultation with youth from the Saskatoon community. Schwandt emphasized how important collaborative involvement was in all aspects of the project.
“What we heard from youth was that the condoms should be funny, bright and engaging,” Schwandt said. “Territorial came up with the idea of using Saskatchewan place names, and when we brought them back to the youth they were really excited about the four designs and emphasized that they liked the component of collectability.”
Students are encouraged to interact with Wrap It Up on social media by tagging posts with #wrapitupsk, and submitting their own condom pun ideas over Facebook and Instagram.
Although Wrap It Up is targeted at the Saskatoon community, SCHS is taking also taking a global approach to their campaign. In addition to social media advertising, SHCS is promoting Wrap It Up by attempting to break the world record for the most STI tests performed in a single day.
On Wednesday, Nov. 2, in collaboration with U of S Student Health Services, OUTSaskatoon, AIDS Saskatoon and several other campus groups, SHCS will set up multiple testing locations all over the U of S campus. Students are encouraged to get tested for common STIs while helping to break the world record.
When it comes to students and safe sex practices, Schwandt says one of the biggest barriers is ensuring that young people have access to accurate sexual health information. Through Wrap It Up, she hopes to help overcome this barrier within Saskatoon.
“One thing that is really challenging is that most youth access information about sexual health online where there tends to be a lot of misconceptions. We want to ensure that youth are getting accurate and informative facts about sexual health,” Schwandt said.
For Schwandt the ultimate goal of Wrap It Up, and SCHS as a whole, is to ensure that young people are able to engage with their sexuality in a safe and enjoyable way.
“It’s really important to reach out to this population because they are the most at risk for getting STIs. We want to make sure that they have the tools so that sex can be safe, healthy and fun.”
Photo: Kaitlin Wong