By: Emma Wilson, Erica Lewis, and Elizabeth Greaves
On March 22, SWSG Pittsburgh sponsored three college mentors to attend Adagio Health Symposium: Transforming Women’s Health. Below is their reflection on the experience:
This year, Adagio Health held its first annual Health Symposium, which focused on gaps in women’s healthcare. We (SWSG mentors) were so honored to be in attendance. We heard from numerous speakers and panels, and without hesitation discussed the harsh realities that women and children face in seeking quality healthcare.
Senator Barbara Boxer was the keynote speaker, who successfully framed the day as an incredible opportunity by which all should be called to make changes in politically “dark times.” We certainly felt inspired to do just that after hearing her speak! One of the most striking discussions we attended was a panel speaking about the ineffective nature of Sexual Education. We heard from an expert on the subject, the executive director of Gwen’s Girls, a school board administrator, a sex educator from Planned Parenthood, and an 11th grade student. Hearing the testimony of these individuals and exploring why sex education is not comprehensive enough, especially for those who identify as LGBTQIA+, was quite shocking. The effect of this ineptitude is one of great gravity, and has the potential to completely change the course of a child’s life. As mentors we felt moved to support greater efforts in the revamping of sexual education.
In addition to sexual education, we unpacked the drug epidemic and general gaps in the healthcare industry, and how those gaps only further complicate pre-existing challenges for women and their families. Advocacy was a huge part of these discussions, which we felt personally moved by. As mentors, we saw how we could increase the general health of our mentees by advocating for better systems & programs in the healthcare industry.
A prominent topic was the hard truth that a lack of effective health care is a vicious cycle, and as previously mentioned, gaps lead to more gaps. From mother to child, from family to society, an unhealthy population is an unproductive one. We were so inspired by the speakers at this symposium, but to listen and to understand is not enough. We as mentors felt called to act on our knowledge, and we hope you are too. While as mentors we may not play a role in the healthcare our girls receive, it is important to keep fighting as young women for their right (and our right) to affordable healthcare that solves long-term problems, instead of applying “band-aid” solutions. It’s important that women have options for health, in maternal care, in drug recovery, in mental well-being, and weight management. These options can’t be obscure, or unreasonably expensive. If we want to see a change in our populations health, we, SWSG mentors need to be that change!