Mar 202012
 
Authors: Allison Sylte

There are countless things in life you don’t have control over, but according to Ellen Marshall, a coordinator for Beforeplay.org, pregnancy shouldn’t be one of them.

Nevertheless, four in 10 pregnancies in Colorado are accidental, a statistic that’s even higher among 18-29 year olds.

And to kickstart the conversations Marshall believes are vital in reducing these numbers, the Beforeplay.org Just Talk About It Street Team will visit various locations throughout Fort Collins on Thursday and Saturday.

“Sexual relations are a normal part of being a human,” Marshall said. “We just want to have a different kind of conversation and let people be more informed and take action.”

Beforeplay launched on Feb. 6, and is a privately funded campaign that exists as part of a public/private partnership between the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environmental (CDPHE) and the Colorado Initiative to Reduce Unintended Pregnancies.

The street team, which is comprised of 17 volunteers, hopes to raise awareness for sexual health at CSU through prizes and various activities.

It has already made stops in Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo.

“Everyday, we’re bombarded with sexuality everywhere we go,” said Chris Urbina, the executive director and chief medical officer of the CDPHE. “Educational opportunities like this serve as a counterargument and get people talking about the issues that matter.”

Urbina added that unintended pregnancy has far-reaching consequences, both for the individual and society as a whole.

“Raising a child is a big financial and emotional challenge,” he said. “It may force you to drop out of school, have less earning power, causing a huge struggle. That continues the cycle of poverty.”

And, Urbina said, students on college campuses in particular are susceptible to sexual health issues, mainly due to the foggy judgement that may accompany newfound independence.

According to data from the American College Health Association, unintended pregnancy rates at CSU are comparable to those at other universities across the country.

The CSU Health Network provides pregnancy tests for students, as well as counseling services.

“The CSU Health Network provides students an informed perspective on all risks associated with sexual activity including STDs, unintended pregnancies and emotional consequences,” said Susan Molfelt, physician and director of the Women’s Clinic at the CSU Health Network, in an email to the Collegian. “… If students choose to have sex, we want them to have the tools to make it as safe as possible.”

The Beforeplay.org street team will be set up inside the Lory Student Center and have a presence on the Lory Student Center Plaza on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and on Saturday will be throughout Old Town.

While both Marshall and Urbina agree that outreach efforts like this are important in reducing Colorado’s unplanned pregnancy rate, they also agree that there’s more work to be done.

“These are long-term changes, and we’re not going to see any specific results in a short period of time,” Marshall said.

Content Managing Editor Allison Sylte can be reached at news@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 2:41 pm

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