Condoms were handed out like candy – and with candy – as part of the annual Sexual Health Advocate Peer Education Sextacular event on Wednesday at Lowry Mall.
Students were invited to visit booths run by organizations from MU and the surrounding community that promoted sexual health. Representatives at booths offered games, buttons, demonstrations, candy, T-shirts and sexual protection.
“We are here to promote awareness and provide a dialogue about being safe on campus,” said Heather Eastman-Mueller, the curriculum coordinator for SHAPE.
Organizations like the MU Student Health Center, The Women’s Center, RAIN of Central Missouri and the Feminist Student Union occupied booths at Sextacular. Eastman-Mueller said groups like these help SHAPE promote its message on a regular basis.
“We ask these organizations to come out because they are somehow related to sexuality and positive messaging around your body,” Eastman-Mueller said. “We collaborate with them year-round on different events, so these are our partners in the community. We couldn’t do it by ourselves.”
RAIN of Central Missouri case manager Steve Santoyo represented his organization at Sextacular by working a booth that provided free protection, lubrication and information on sexual health.
“We work with SHAPE a lot, any time they have an event like this or in general,” Santoyo said. “We’re here letting students know what we do, which is education and testing, and making sure they leave with our contact information. We want them to know that we are located right down the street and that we are always available for free testing.”
Eastman-Mueller said that Sextacular is put on each year by the SHAPE peer educators. SHAPE treasurer Mariah Robinson worked one of the informational booths handing out condoms and flyers about MU programs for sexual health.
“SHAPE is like a family where we get to talk about genitals,” Robinson said. “I was interested in learning about sexual health myself so that I could help people in my family feel more comfortable. I wanted to offer my younger siblings resources that I didn’t have.”
Other peers worked booths that demonstrated the correct way to use sexual protection methods, such as oral dams, female condoms, and male condoms. Participants had to visit this booth and a few other informational booths to get cards punched in order to win a free T-shirt.
Sextacular’s theme changes each year, but always has the tagline “Get Ready to Ride,” Eastman-Mueller said. This year, the theme was Western, so students were invited to take photos dressed in Western gear for SHAPE’s Facebook page at one of the booths.
“I took a picture dressed as a cowboy,” said sophomore Jaleya Johnson, who decided to stop by Sextacular in between classes. “This has been pretty cool.”
Johnson said she was particularly interested in the Feminist Student Union booth.
“I learned about the meetings they have and I signed up for more information,” Johnson said. “I think I’ll probably go to a few meetings.”
Junior Joe Clamp also said that he learned something from Sextacular.
“I learned that there is a lot of free testing on and around campus,” said Clamp. “I also got a bunch of free condoms, candy and a T-shirt.”
Spreading this kind of information is the goal of the event as well as SHAPE as an organization, Eastman-Mueller said.
“We are here to promote awareness and provide a dialogue about being safe on campus,” Eastman-Mueller said.