Wind River UNITY Photovoice

Funded by the Wyoming Department of Health, Public Health Division, Communicable Disease Section, HIV Prevention Program

About the project:

Young people living on the Wyoming Wind River Indian Reservation learned about healthy relationships to prevent unintended pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and sexually transmitted infections. They were asked to take pictures of what a healthy relationship means to them, and who and what supports them and makes it difficult for them to have healthy relationships.

What we learned:

This project shows that the young people in this group count on their cultural heritage to show them the way to peaceful, caring relationships in which people are included, treated with respect, and accepted.

Why it’s important:

Because of past and ongoing discrimination and oppression, many American Indian people tend to have serious health and social problems. As we work together to create health solutions at the community level, it is helpful to be open to learning from the community what problems they are facing, and how their cultural values and beliefs can be honored as building blocks of strength for their health and wellbeing.

Additional information:

American Indian and Alaska Native Populations at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Profile: American Indian/Alaska Native at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health

Native Youth Sexual Health Network

Gay Youth and their Allies

Funded by the Wyoming Department of Health, Public Health Division, Communicable Disease Section, HIV Prevention Program

About the project:

Young LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) people and their allies learned about healthy relationships to prevent unintended pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and sexually transmitted infections. They were asked to take pictures of what a healthy relationship means to them, and who and what supports them and makes it difficult for them to have healthy relationships.

What we learned:

This project shows the power of allies in supporting young LGBTQ people who may be facing many difficulties in their lives.

Why it’s important:

LGBTQ youth face bullying, teasing, isolation, fear of abandonment from their families, and may be at higher risk of HIV/AIDS, sexual violence, and abuse than non-LGBTQ youth. LGBTQ youth are at higher risk of depression, high school dropout, and suicide than their heterosexual peers. Knowing that these risks exist and that connectedness is a protective factor is important in developing safe, supportive, and well networked communities.

Additional information:

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Unique Sexual and Reproductive Health Needs of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth at the Healthy Teen Network

LGBT Youth Topics at Youth.gov, the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP)

Recovery from Trauma and Addiction: The Importance of Relationships and Community Connection

Funded by a contract with the 12-24 Club in Casper, WY, via the Campaign for Social Inclusion grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

About the project:

Young people whose lives have been impacted by traumatic events and addiction got together and talked about the effects of trauma on their lives, and shared their stories about the importance of being accepted and included in the social fabric of their communities.

What we learned:

Traumatic experiences that make a difference in teen and young adults’ lives also make a difference in their health and wellbeing. Being welcomed and accepted as part of a safe and supportive community is a key to healing and recovery from trauma.

Why it’s important:

Some of the things that may bring trauma into a young person’s life can cause negative ripple effects that are all connected. Some of these factors include depression, anxiety, bullying, sexual violence, child abuse, witnessing violence, parents’ alcoholism and drug addiction, poverty, and anti-gay stigma. The risk factors for these negative experiences are being isolated from people, information, and care. The protective factors for healing and recovery are being connected with people, information, and care. Knowing that being connected is a protective factor helps us as we develop safe and supportive communities.

Additional information:

School Connectedness: Strategies for Increasing Protective Factors Among Youth at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Trauma-Informed Care and Trauma-Informed Approaches at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Fostering Connectedness to Improve Youth Health and Educational Outcomes: The Voices of Leaders and Allies

Funded by the Wyoming Department of Health, Public Health Division, Communicable Disease Section, HIV Prevention Program

About the project:

Community leaders in the fields of public health and education, as well as young allies, worked together to share their views of the importance of educating youth about healthy relationships to prevent HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, and unintended pregnancy.

What we learned:

It is a challenge to bring education about healthy relationships, healthy sexuality, and reproductive health into schools and communities, where there may be disagreement about what to teach, how much (if any) should be taught, who should teach, and at what ages. However, all of the participants agreed that a safe, supportive, connected community, in which we have important conversations about these topics, is an important place to begin in order to improve related health and educational outcomes for youth and families.

Why it’s important:

Young people will be healthier and have a brighter future when they are empowered with information to make informed, responsible decisions about their relationships, reproductive health and sexuality.

Additional information:

Women Impacted by HIV

Funded by the Region VIII U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health

About the project:

This project amplifies the stories of women living in rural areas whose lives are impacted by HIV/AIDS.

What we learned:

Women whose lives are impacted by HIV/AIDS in rural areas face stigma and stereotyping; isolation from emotional and social support; challenges in accessing care related to weather, distance, limited medical providers, and medical costs.

Why it’s important:

Empowering women impacted by HIV/AIDS to come together and share their stories addressed some of the isolation and stigma by providing a safe space for the women to share their experiences and learn they were not alone. In addition, empowering these women’s stories helps us understand the challenges they face

Additional information:

HIV Among Women at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

HIV/AIDS Information at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health

Primary Prevention of Sexual Violence Project

Funded by a contract with Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault via the Wyoming Department of Health’s Rape Prevention and Education funds and the Health and Human Services Prevention Block Grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About the project:

Partners from the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and members of statewide pilot communities in the Wyoming Community-Based Primary Sexual Violence Prevention Award to share information about their experiences in this work. The project also provides information about the importance of preventing sexual violence in our Wyoming communities.

What we learned:

Community collaboration and community partnerships are keys to success in preventing sexual violence before it happens. When communities come together to work on the issues collectively, change is possible.

Why it’s important:

Primary prevention aims to stop an issue before it happens, by creating safe and supportive, connected communities. In the Community-Based Primary Sexual Violence Prevention program, the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault contracts with the Wyoming Health Council to provide a Community Readiness Assessment that guides the work of the pilot community as they receive technical assistance and three years of funding to develop and implement a community-based plan for the primary prevention of sexual violence. For more information on applying to become a pilot community, please contact Jody Sanborn at the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, jsanborn@wyomingdvsa.org, 307-755-5481.

Additional information:

Sexual Violence Prevention: Beginning the Dialogue at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

PreventConnect.org, a national online project dedicated to the primary prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault

Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault<.a>