Baltimore Health Department program helps teens create graphic novel addressing sexually transmitted diseases and birth control
When eight high school students are commissioned to make a graphic novel about sexual health, don’t be surprised if the result includes pet dragons, a troll with genital warts and a guy named Funk Master Flexin’.
These comedic touches appear in a booklet created during a six-week summer program for students at the Baltimore City Health Department that aims to raise awareness about sexual health and the department’s relocated young adult center in Druid Hill.
Meeting twice a week beginning July 8, the students were asked to write, photograph, draw, scan and digitally edit three stories about sexually transmitted diseases and birth control, and assemble them in a booklet.
The project was the idea of Catherine Watson, director of adolescent and reproductive health at the Druid Family Health Center. She called graphic novels a new and exciting way for youth to teach their peers.
But Watson said her main goals were to attract students to the relocated Healthy Teens and Young Adults Center at the Health Department’s center in Druid Hill and give them a sense of accomplishment.
The project will also make its participants more comfortable with using contraception and getting STD tests, said Brittany Bryan, a Health Department intern who helped facilitate the program.
“The fact that they’re telling others to get tested means that, if they have to later in life, they will,” she said.
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