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May 13, 2010

My Day as an Advocate

My name is Bandu and I am from Sacramento County. I am passionate about women's health and reproductive rights and I want to make a change in my community. I attended the Planned Parenthood Capitol Day because I want support prevention services and comprehensive sex education. I think more youth should get involved and help inform the decisions that are impacting our lives.

I attended Planned Parenthood’s Capitol Day 2010 because I feel it is important that youth speak out about reproductive health issues to make our community a safer place. I arrived at the State Capitol at 8:30 am. There were people representing counties across the state all in support of Planned Parenthood. The North Steps were decorated with black and burgundy balloons. There were health-education booths set up around the lawn with information on Planned Parenthood’s prevention services, including STD prevention, breast cancer awareness, and primary care. I checked in and received my shirt and bag and was ready to start my day. I was one of the many 1000 supporters there to educate our decision makers and community on the importance of protecting the prevention services provided by Planned Parenthood.

During the morning there was a rally in which guest speakers including Senator Mark Leno and Assemblymember Paul Fong discussed the importance of keeping the Family Planning, Access, Care and Treatment program (Family PACT) available to our community. Family PACT provides pregnancy prevention services such as contraceptives, and STD prevention services and education to low-income families(1). Currently the Governor’s proposed 2010-11 state budget threatens to eliminate Family PACT funding and decrease the reimbursement rates paid to providers of family planning services for patients covered under Medi-Cal and Family PACT(2). After the rally supporters gathered in groups by their counties, and met with their legislators to educate and persuade them to protect Family PACT.

After ate lunch on the lawn while a mariachi band and dance crew performed, in honor of Cinco De Mayo. After Lunch we marched to the convention center singing chants and sharing our message to the public. As we made our way to the convention center we were met with some opposition holding anti-abortion signs. I felt empowered as I walked by and wanted to educate them on the misconceptions they have about Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is not just about abortions; they are about prevention services and helping our community. 

After we arrived at the convention center, Spare Change, a youth theater group from Humboldt county, performed creative skits on the importance of comprehensive sex education, healthy relationships, and youth empowerment. My favorite was the skit about the Birth Control Beauty Pageant where contestants represented the different birth controls available on the market. The winner was Abstinence because it is the only 100% effective birth control and STD prevention out there.

At the end of the day supporters attended various workshops to learn more about prevention services and ways to support community efforts. I went to the International Reproductive Health and Organizing Local Communities workshops and was able to relate information to the women’s health work that I am a part of at school.  I felt empowered at Planned Parenthood’s Capitol Day because I was a part of educating our community and legislators on the issues impacting reproductive health. I was happy to see so many youth at the event supporting Planned Parenthood’s efforts. I feel we need more youth involvement and representation in policy-making, and the only way this can happen is to invite us and support us to be a part of the process.

  1 California Department of Health Care Services, Family Pact http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/medi-cal/Pages/FamilyPACTMedi-CalWaiver.aspx
  2 “Attack on Family Planning Fact Sheet”, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, Inc., PPAC

Check out the video I created about my experience.

 

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