Strengthen connections and natural supports
It takes a village to provide consistent, quality sexual health education to young people. Everyone can help young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities build relationships with members of their communities and grow their social networks.
Natural supports are give-and-take relationships formed in everyday life that can include family, friends, romantic partners, faith community, classmates, co-workers, neighbors, roommates, coaches, teammates, and others who make up our social networks. When it comes to relationships and sexual health, youth with I/DD especially value the support of people who respect their rights, are informed, honest and trustworthy, and can assist them in difficult situations. Professionals who work with young people with I/DD can help them strengthen connections to natural supports.
Learn more about strengthening connections to natural supports by reading the report Working with Vulnerable Youth to Enhance their Natural Supports: A Practice Framework
Facilitate peer connection
Young people with I/DD want to get and give support to their peers, friends and siblings with and without disabilities. Help young people to come together, access accurate and affirming sexual health information, and have open and honest conversations about relationships and sexual health.
Right to Love (R2L) is an advocacy group in Canada that is an example of a way to facilitate peer connection. Supported by Disability Action Hall and the Centre for Sexuality, R2L is “a group of people with disabilities and our allies working together to make healthy choices about love.” Learn more on the R2L website or by visiting the R2L YouTube channel.