I got interested in teen health issues when I was 15 years old. I was a high school sophomore looking for a school project mentor. I found one of SHIFT NC's partner agencies, and the mentor who became one of the most influential people in my adolescent years.*
"If she could talk about that at 15 she can talk about anything now. The passion she had as a teen has carried over into adulthood and is evident in her work ethic." - Ronna Bowler, Gabriela's Mom
Sexual health, and specifically teen pregnancy prevention, were topics that affected my daily life. Back then, North Carolina schools only provided ineffective abstinence-only education. I had so many questions, and I had little understanding of how to tackle complex situations. My peers struggled with big questions about healthy relationships, sexual identity, sexually transmitted infections, and contraception. Resources to answer these questions were scarce. So, in addition to my school project, I volunteered with SHIFT NC to change our state's health education law.
As a young professional, I have come to fully appreciate what I learned while advocating for sexual health resources as a teen. I can make thoughtful decisions with my physician on the best form of contraception for me at a given point in my life. I know the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships. I stand up for others who face barriers because of sexual identity or orientation. I can talk to my mom when I need her input. I feel empowered to make a difference in my community.
Please consider donating in honor of young voices like Gabriela's - strong, powerful voices for health. Donate $100, $250, or $500 today!
After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I joined my family's small business - House of Hops Craft Beer Store in Raleigh. I also joined the Board of Directors of SHIFT NC. I joined because I believe sexual health is a hugely important aspect of an individual's overall health, and young people still receive so little education on it.
We need young people to grow up healthy. We need North Carolina communities to provide medically-accurate information on strategies to prevent teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, on how to cultivate healthy relationships, and on how to find the health resources they need. Providing young people with the information they need to make healthy decisions and the resources they need to act on their decisions gives them essential tools to develop into healthy adults.
I believe in the necessary work SHIFT NC does in our communities. But it takes the generosity of people like me and you to help meet North Carolina's needs. That's why our business supports SHIFT NC, that's why I support SHIFT NC, and that's why I'm asking you to consider supporting SHIFT NC again. Will you help us get to $5,000? Your gift will allow us to ensure teens in our state receive medically accurate and non-judgmental sexual health answers through our BrdsNBz Text Line. Your year-end gift is an investment in one of the most powerful needs of all - the need to help young people grow up healthy. As a small business, we believe in investing in our communities, just as SHIFT NC has done for 30 years. Please show your appreciation and support SHIFT NC this holiday season.
* That most influential person was Jenny, who now works as SHIFT NC's school engagement specialist, continuing the tradition of empowering teens!