SHNS wins 2018 Bentley Award!

PRESS RELEASE – from Action Canada for Sexual Health & Rights

Sexual Health Nova Scotia Wins Prize for their innovative program on sexuality and intellectual disability

4 Dec 2018, Nova Scotia – The program Doing It Better, developed by Sexual Health Nova Scotia, gives service providers the tools to better support people living with intellectual disabilities when it comes to their sexuality.  This program was the recipient of the prestigious Bentley Awards of Excellence.

As part of their legacy, Helen and Fred Bentley generously support sexual health innovation and leadership through the Helen and Fred Bentley Awards of Excellence. The award is coordinated by ActionCanada for Sexual Health and Rights (Action Canada) and comes with a monetary prize to support ongoing efforts in the field. Second prize went to Saskatoon Sexual Health for their program “Wrap It Up! SK”

Doing It Better trains service providers on sexual violence prevention and sexuality education to support people living with intellectual disabilities.

‘’People living with intellectual disabilities also need to learn about their sexual health and rights, privacy, consent and how to navigate relationships,’’ says Leigh Heide, Provincial Coordinator for Sexual Health Nova Scotia. ‘’We’re hoping to decrease in the long-term the high rates of sexual violence and trauma in their lives.’’

Sexuality education is extremely important but often unavailable for people with intellectual disabilities.  A lack of knowledge around sexuality makes them more vulnerable to unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and sexual assault.   

With Doing It Better, Sexual Health NS produced a 360-page manual of research, lessons, and activities for facilitators to fill the gap and provide much needed resources on sex education for people with intellectual disabilities. ‘’It was important for us to make sure this resource covers each of the same topics you would find in a comprehensive curriculum for students who do not have disabilities, including issues such as sexting and pornography,” says Heide.

Doing It Better initially started as a single facilitator training session for a small number of educators but due to high demand, the program expanded into three training sessions with over 80 participants and nearly 100 waitlisted. Participants included staff from residential facilities, public schools, sexual assaults centres, and women’s centres. Many participants are now facilitating offshoot programs in their own communities.

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights coordinates the Bentley Awards and received applications from across the country. “The selection committee received a strong number of applications this year and it wasn’t an easy decision but Sexual Health Nova Scotia’s Doing It Better program stood out,” says Sandeep Prasad, Executive Director of Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights. “The way Sexual Health Nova Scotia was able to reach participants in various sectors and communities in the province and the program’s popularity are telling. It shows that Doing It Better is clearly filling in a gap when it comes to providing support and education to people living with intellectual disabilities.” 


Media Contacts

Ani Colekessian
Communications Director
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
613 241 4474 x7

Leigh Heide

Provincial Coordinator – Sexual Health NS

902 492 6900

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