By Angela Kazmierczak
NAITSA is partnering with CAPE Clinic, a volunteer-run health centre in Downtown Edmonton, to offer students, families and friends free contraceptives and sexual health education with minimal barriers. The partnership was first announced on NAITSA’s social media and website on February 7th.
What differentiates CAPE from other programs is that it offers free sexual health care and education at no cost. As well, there are no prerequisites for access at CAPE. Alberta Health Services and many other contraceptive programs require financial records, an Alberta Health Care card or permanent address for access to these resources, but these conditions often deter women from receiving these services.
According to VP Internal, Jorgia Moore, NAITSA is the first in Edmonton to develop a partnership like this, where no prerequisites are required to access care.
In discussions between NAITSA and the cofounder of CAPE, Diane Buchanan, Buchanan expressed that current barriers to accessing contraceptives stem from cultural practices, substance abuse, the fear of being found out or a lack of awareness for birth control alternatives and resources.
“We think this [program] really eliminates those [barriers] … We just thought CAPE was a good place to give that information to start, it’s very private. There are no questions asked. You don’t need an address to put down. It’s just as simple to go, and take it out [the IUD] if they decide that is no longer for them. That’s where we kind of started and thought that was really good information and resources for students to have,” said Moore.
When students query about the available resources at their appointments, CAPE physicians will consider their needs and situations. The doctor will also inform students about the many forms of birth control available since it’s commonly believed that daily, scheduled pills are the only form. Something like an IUD, an intrauterine device that’s inserted inside the uterus, can be easier to upkeep or hide from family members, for example.
NAIT students can gain access to these resources through the CAPE website or learn basic information about the program on the NAITSA Students Benefits page, where information about dental and medical benefits are posted. From there, students can discover more about the CAPE program and arrange their first appointment at the private clinic.
“Education, having that option [is beneficial]. Sometimes that’s really empowering just to know that it’s there, and knowing that you don’t have to worry about budgeting for that. Or, affordability, it’s just easily accessible, and it’s sexual health in general. Just having that resource available to students and that they know that it’s there [is beneficial],” says Moore.
“Obviously, this will not be right for some students, but just knowing that it’s there and just having as many resources around them to make their own choices in anything and to have that support in whatever they do. I think there’s no such thing as having too many [resources].”