My name is Ashlyn and I am a fourth year Bachelor of Nursing student at the University of Manitoba. After hearing about Youthnited Nations and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), I was excited to get involved! I joined as a SDG Champion, and was particularly drawn to SDG number three: Good Health and Well-Being.
As the Vice-Stick of our Nursing Students’ Association, I thought about how we could advocate within our college to work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. For me, Good Health and Well-Being means considering the social determinants of health to inform how we approach healthcare: addressing inequities within our society and reorienting services to address them is crucial to effect meaningful change.
I collaborated with Project Safe Audience (an organization created by novice nurses to provide harm reduction education and testing services at rave events locally) and brought them to our college to host a harm reduction workshop for nursing students.
This topic was particularly relevant, as a majority of the attendees were completing community placements where they worked with vulnerable populations and individuals who engaged in high-risk behaviours.
The workshop identified common substances used, described practical ways to provide care using a harm reduction perspective, and highlighted the importance of testing. Social determinants of health such as education, low income, poverty, mental illness, stress and marginalization all contribute to the environments in which people more often engage in drug use and unsafe sex practices.
Stigma and discrimination within the health care system can result in individuals being afraid to seek care and thus increasing the risk of chronic disease and continued spread of infections. In reorienting health care services to adopt harm reduction approaches we can achieve positive changes for vulnerable population groups and provide holistic, person centred care. In educating nurses and nursing students, we are advocating for Good Heath and Well-Being for all.
Additionally, considering the SDGs, with the help of our student council, we hosted a Pride Celebration week. This Pride week celebrated the LGBTQ2S+ community and outlined the importance of making the health care system a safe space where health care professionals provide competent, non-stigmatizing care.
We offered students rainbow caduceus pins, snacks, a photo wall and took donations for Rainbow Resource (a non-or profit organization serving Manitoba and North Western Ontario’s LGBTQ2S+ communities) where we raised nearly three hundred dollars.
I look forward to continue working with Youthnited Nations and advocating for the Sustainable Development Goals!
Ashlyn Cortvriendt (4th year BN Student)
College of Nursing, University of Manitoba