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Youth Spotlight: Rudy Boock

Walking into your first puberty or maturation class can feel uncomfortable for anyone. Comparing yourself to others, trying to understand the program, and probably have many questions you might be too embarrassed to ask. Imagine all of that, on top of feeling like you can not identify with lessons that should be giving them vital information about puberty and health. Many youth have felt this way, but one Battle Mountain High schooler is trying to change that.

Rudy Boock felt this way when it came time to attend his school's maturation class. Rudy is Transgender and felt out of place during this discussion; the classes focused on cisgender individuals and had limited resources applied to LGBTQ individuals. Feeling alone in this experience, Rudy wanted to make a difference for others like him. The information that is currently offered by maturation projects and the Red Ribbon Project and extremely helpful. Rudy's goal is to augment those programs by spending more time going in-depth on topics. Rudy adds, "Plus, people don't stop having questions about sex after they take a Sex Ed class."

Mountain Youth's mission is to create a community where all youth thrive, a community where our youth's voices matter, a community where young people with a passion can make a difference! Rudy introduced his passion project idea, Extended Sexual Education, to Valley's Voice to be accepted.

Extended Sex Ed strives to provide comprehensive, ongoing, and engaging sex education for Eagle Valley's youth through monthly meetings with local experts. The project aims to create a comfortable space for youth to ask questions and learn invaluable information often overlooked in typical health classes by creating a community where youth feel comfortable and supported. ESE wants to break down the shame and taboos surrounding safe sex and foster an environment for learning. With relatable speakers and a more relaxed atmosphere, youth are encouraged to ask questions either in real-time or through an anonymous Google form. The focus is connection; instead of a one-sided lecture, meetings will facilitate group discussion. This environment will help other youth make connections and not feel isolated. They are working to create a dynamic and engaging learning environment.

Healthy relationships were the focus of November's ESE meeting. Megan Vogt, a local licensed professional counselor, led a group discussion after viewing the 2018 film, Love Simon. Rudy raved about the first meeting and how Megan's resources and answers were beneficial to everyone in attendance. He is excited for upcoming meetings with topics about safe practices with a registered nurse, a traditional sex-ed class focusing on LGBTQ, and many more.

Rudy's passion for creating safe spaces will have lasting effects on many youth in Eagle County. After attending, he hopes that his and his partner's work will change negative mindset and attitudes towards sex ed classes, encourage healthier life choices, and ultimately change negative Healthy Kids Colorado data. To learn more about Rudy's work with ESE, follow @Extended_Sex_Ed on Instagram to keep up with a meeting.

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