Haley Post ’22 steps up accessible sex education at Room One in Twisp, WA

Hi there! My name is Haley Post and I am going into my sophomore year at Whitman. I am an intended Psychology major with a Geology minor. This summer I am Room One’s intern in Twisp, WA. Room One is a nonprofit organization that provides mental and physical health resources and advocates for members of the Methow Valley. Through girl groups at the junior high and high school, to domestic violence prevention and family support, Room One educates and supports the entire community. In such a small isolated location, Room One is a vital resource that provides necessary services and ensures that every member of the community has an advocate. As a future psychology major and someone who has a lot of interest in social work and giving back to the community I was raised in, this internship at Room One was perfect for me.

This summer, my role as an intern at Room One has many different jobs and aspects. Some of my time in the office is spent working on Youth Homelessness in Okanogan County where Twisp resides. Within this, I have attended Youth Homelessness Coalition meetings with members from every town in the county. I also help in the comprehensive sex ed. department as well as with Youth Groups and Girls Groups in the County. We have taught culturally appropriate sex ed to over 140 Native Youth in Nespelem, WA and I am also helping to create a sex ed podcast, interviewing members of our valley. My personal project for the summer has been creating a tool for parents to talk to their kids about consent. Lastly, I have attended two sexual health conferences, where I have learned an incredible amount of not only how to teach sex ed, but what other organizations have been doing in Washington state to change what is taught in our schools.

Two things I want to focus on in this post are my work with Youth Groups in the County and my personal project. Okanogan County is the largest County in Washington state and has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the United States. With on average 1/16 girls between the ages 14-18 years old getting pregnant every year in our County,

we have a problem. Although it is illegal in Washington state to teach Abstinence-only sex ed., most junior highs, and high schools in our county still do. While room one is doing every possible to sway these conservative towns towards teaching comprehensive sex ed., and are making some progress, many schools are still very resistant. Because of this, Room One created a Youth Leadership Council that meets twice a month. This group consists of 25 high school and junior high students 

representing every town in our County. In this group, myself and the supervisors, work to provide comprehensive sex ed., including where and how to get birth control and STD testing, and information sheets and resources to share with peers at their schools. This group has made a huge impact in every school district in our County and is one of the most functioning YLC’s in the country. At the beginning of the summer, members of this group approached their principal demanding that something must be done, resulting in comprehensive sex ed. now being taught in this school district.

For my personal project, I have been creating questions to ask parents about what they used or wish they had access to while talking to their kids about consent. This included questions such as: “Do you want to talk to your kids about consent?”  “How has this conversation developed over time?” “What type of resources would be or would have been helpful? Workshop, book, flyers, newsletter, etc.?” With these questions and interviews, I am creating my own visual handout to help parents in my community with the conversation about consent.

So far, this summer is going great! I have been learning tons and love working with the members of Room One. I am so excited to see the ways in which my work here can be applied to my future studies at Whitman.

Experiences like Haley Post’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Mitzy Rodriguez

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