A year-old high school clinic on the West Shore that offers young people information on sexual health recently received a cash boost.
Belmont Secondary’s Sexual Health Clinic, operated by the non-profit Island Sexual Health Society since last February, won $6,450 as part of the Helen and Fred Bentley Award of Excellence. The award is provided by the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health (formerly Planned Parenthood).
A registered nurse with specialized training in sexual education and health runs the school clinic, open Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Students from throughout Sooke school district are offered free, confidential services, including help with birth control, pregnancy testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
It’s the first such clinic on Vancouver Island to open in a school. RCMP reserve constable Scott Rothermel spearheaded much of the effort to get the clinic up and running.
Bobbi Turner, executive director of Island Sexual Health Society, said Belmont was selected because the school is at the centre of the community.
The West Shore is a difficult place to serve teens because the communities are more spread out than in Greater Victoria’s core municipalities and bus service is less frequent.
“The critical component is making sure they have community access,” Turner said. “The whole idea is preventive health, so they get the education that allows them to make responsible choices.”
She said the Belmont clinic has been “really busy” since opening last February, serving 10 to 20 youths each week.
Turner said other rural or smaller communities on Vancouver Island have expressed interest in opening similar sexual-health centres in their secondary schools. Inquiries have come from Sidney, the Saanich Peninsula and communities up-Island, Turner said.
Youth in the core area have access to Island Sexual Health Centres, with clinics at Camosun College’s Lansdowne campus and 1770 Fort St., although the latter is expected to close and shift to 3960 Quadra St., near McKenzie Avenue, early in the new year.
For more information on the Island Sexual Health Society and its operations, go to islandsexualhealth.org.
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