If there is one person in the world who is the most passionate about working with youth, it is Alex Medina. Alex is currently the Coordinator of Web Content and Social Networking at Answer. Answer is an award-winning, national organization that provides invaluable sexuality education resources to millions of young people and adults every year based at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Alex Medina (right) with YTH Youth Advisors Anthony Sis and Ebony Section
At YTH Live 2014 I had the opportunity to meet Alex in person at the youth networking session hosted by the YTH Youth Advisory Board. I had the pleasure of asking Alex some questions about his work at Answer, his experience at YTH Live, and how he began working with youth and technology. Here is what Alex had to say:
1) Alex, I have seen you attend YTH Live over the past couple of years. What inspires you to come back?
YTH Live is a fantastic conference for people like me who are passionate about youth, tech and health. Tech changes quickly, and young people drive much of that change. So it’s important to adapt health outreach efforts and meet young people where they’re at online.
I’ve learned so much from the successes and challenges of others in the field. And I get to share get to share the groundbreaking work I do at Answer. We’re always working on something new in tech and sexual health!
2) At Answer you serve as the Coordinator of Web Content and Social Networking. What kind of tasks do you work on?
I get to work on all things tech, including social media strategy, web content development and managing digital projects, like redesigning a website or developing a game. I also get to train professionals on how social media or smartphones can be used to engage teens. I’m always thinking about how technology can improve sex education.
3) You were a part of the Sex, Etc. relaunch back in 2012. How has the website content changed since its relaunch?
The LOL section of Sexetc.org features humorous sexual health content, especially memes, GIFs and photos. It’s the lighter side of sex ed. We also publish content regularly on Sexetc.org—the Sex, Etc. teen staff are always writing new stories and blog posts.
4) At YTH Live 2014 you spoke at the “Gaming for Health” session about games designed for sexual health education. How did your interests in gaming and sexual health come together for you?
I grew up playing video games and have always wanted to make a game. In college I thought I’d become a video game designer. But I went on a very different path after discovering sexuality and gender studies. During my senior year at Rutgers I started volunteering at Answer, and the rest is history.
In 2013 Answer competed in the first annual Games for Change Game Design Competition, and we won a chance to work with indie game developers on creating a sexual health game. It was incredible to have two very different passions of mine come together so unexpectedly. Can you say destiny?
5) Could you speak about some current or upcoming projects that you’re working on?
I just finished work on a prototype of Safer Sex Shuffle, a game that teaches players how to protect themselves from pregnancy and STDs through the use of latex barriers such as condoms and dental dams. Players score points by linking body part and latex barrier tiles to make ‘chains’ of safer sex behaviors. It’s like Boggle or Spelltower, but with funny anthropomorphic vulva and condom artwork.
I’m so excited for what’s next for Safer Sex Shuffle. We’d like to make the game available as an app for smartphones and tablets, as well as on Sexetc.org. My goal is to make Safer Sex Shuffle a game that teens want to play again and again, both in class and at home.
6) Where do you see the landscape of youth innovation, health, and technology heading towards in the future?
The future is now! Teens and tech are already reshaping expectations for how sex education and sexual health services should be delivered. And smartwatches and wearable tech like Google Glass will be an exciting area of innovation. It’s up to us—professionals who work with youth—to adapt and meet our audience wherever they go!
7) What types of activities do you recommend youth engage in who wish to pursue a similar path as the one you’ve taken?
Google everything. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Read a lot. Unplug from technology once in a while. And eat your Wheaties every morning.
I have to ask, what is your favorite thing about YTH Live?
The youth! The tech! The weather!
I really did leave my heart in San Francisco, and I hope to make more memories at YTH Live next year.
Thank you for being an inspirational youth and sexual health advocate. Keep up the great work, Alex!
For more information about YTH Live, visit http://yth.org/ythlive.
Anthony Sis (@a_sis62) is a founding member of YTH’s Youth Advisory Board.
He’s a senior at Connecticut College studying government and gender, as well as women’s studies, with a certificate in public policy and community action. He’s a spoken word poet, dancer, writer, and avid blogger. +Learn more about Anthony